Ulster Rugby (35) 68
TRY: Luke Marshall (2), Charles Piutau (2), Ruan Pienaar, Jacob Stockdale, Craig Gilroy, John Andrew, Stuart Olding, Paul Marshall. CON: Ruan Pienaar (7), Stuart Olding (2).
Zebre Rugby (7) 21
TRY: Andrea De Marchi, Guillermo Roan, Lloyd Greeff. CON: Serafin Bordoli, Guglielmo Palazzani (2).
Ulster Rugby romped to a record points total in their 68 – 21 win against Zebre on Saturday afternoon breaking their previous best of 67 against Caerphilly.
The win moved Ulster into a play-off spot in the PRO12 with five rounds remaining., four points ahead of Scarlets and six behind Munster.
Luke Marshall and Charles Piutau both bagged a brace with Ruan Pienaar, Jacob Stockdale, Craig Gilroy, John Andrew, Stuart Olding and Paul Marshall also crossing. Pienaar added seven conversions and Olding two.
However not everything went Ulster’s way, a knee injury picked up by Marcell Coetzee a major concern as Ulster look to end the season with silverware.
It was job done for Ulster by the 26th minute when Charles Piutau crossed for the fourth try. Luke Marshall had already crossed twice, either side of a response from Zebre’s Andrea De Marchi, and Pienaar had crossed once as Ulster appeared to score at will.
Stockdale crossed for Ulster’s fifth just after the half hour mark before it all quietened down with the teams taking an early breather. Pienaar had converted all the tries and Ulster turned round with a 35 – 7 lead.
An exquisite pass from Jared Payne put Gilroy through for Ulster’s sixth four minutes into the second half and Paul Marshall came on for Pienaar after the South African converted. Marshall sent a grubber through for the Zebre defence to fumble and Piutau to score number six, Olding taking over the kicking duties, missed with his first attempt from out wide.
At 47 – 7 Ulster began to empty their bench with key players rested for bigger games to come. However the scoring continues as John Andrew, playing as wing forward, crossed, with Olding converting before Zebre responded through Guillermo Roan on the 67th minute.
There was no let up this half as Olding, who had an impressive game at out half, and Paul Marshall both grabbed a try each before Zebre finished the night off with a late score from Lloyd Greef. All the tries were converted leaving a final score of Ulster 68 Zebre 21.
An entertaining encounter but a bit too one sided to be a classic. However, it’s another big tick in the job done column for Ulster as they continue with their end of season revival.
Ulster Rugby: Jared Payne, Craig Gilroy, Jacob Stockdale, Luke Marshall, Charles Piutau, Stuart Olding, Ruan Pienaar, Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Kieran Treadwell, Alan O’Connor, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Marcell Coetzee. Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Franco vd Merwe, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Peter Nelson, David Busby.