The all important bonus point eluded Ulster though tries from Andrew Trimble and Jacob Stockdale secured a 21-14 win over Benetton Treviso.
Ulster now sit third in Conference B behind Scarlets and Leinster who both have a maximum of ten points from their opening two games.
Trimble scored his first try and got Ulster on the score sheet within ten minutes of the kick off. The ball fell fortuitously to Ulster winger after a messy lineout on the Benetton five metre line. Trimble jinked past a few sloppy tackles to dot down under the posts and leave John Cooney an easy conversion attempt.
The pick of Ulster’s tries came midway through the first half. The ever-reliable Louis Ludik, who was bright in the first half, freed his arms in the tackle and offloaded to Trimble. Interchanging with Cooney, Trimble received the ball back for a very good try. The score remained 14-0 at the break.
Benetton were the better team in the second half but, like Ulster in the first half, could not find the final ball to cross over the line. Midway through the half Jacob Stockdale scored Ulster’s third try thanks to a charge down from Cooney off a five-metre Benetton scrum. Despite gaining momentum after the try Ulster were unable to score the crucial fourth.
The Ulster scrum half put in another solid performance and was awarded man of the match. Cooney made four breaks, the most out of any Ulster player and also pulled off a magnificent try saving tackle in the first half. In his first two matches John Cooney has looked assured and provided quick ball when it was available.
Benetton were next on the scoresheet. A maul from a lineout inside the Ulster 22m peeled off and Federico Ruzzi emerged from the bottom of the maul with the ball. Ulster should have had the bonus point but their inability to string together several phases throughout the match without an unforced error cost them dearly. Nevertheless it was good to see Ulster keep trying moves and making line-breaks which was not always the case last season.
Out half Ian McKinley scored his side’s second try. Treviso won the ball from an Ulster ruck inside their own half. Quick ball allowed Tommaso Allen to chip ahead and regather before popping to McKinley for an easy run in. Instead of pushing for the bonus point Ulster now had to protect their seven point lead for the last ten minutes with the game culminating in a handling error from Treviso on the Ulster five-metre line.
Ulster welcome reigning PRO12 champions Scarlets to Kingspan on Friday and drastic improvement will need to be made on a night which will mark five years since the passing of Nevin, Noel and Graham Spence.