Treviso (6) 11
TRY: Tommaso Benvenuti PEN: Tommaso Allan (2)
Ulster (10) 22
TRY: Luke Marshall, Rob Herring, Ruan Pienaar CON: Ruan Pienaar (2) PEN: Ruan Pienaar

Despite recording an 11 – 22 away win against Treviso on Saturday afternoon there was still plenty to be unhappy about with Ulster’s performance. 

Ulster got off to the best of starts with Luke Marshall grabbing an early try which Ruan Pienaar converted, but after an impressive opening five minutes the Ulster boys failed to kick on and the rest of the half was largely dominated by Treviso. 

In a scratchy game Tommaso Allan pulled the score back to 3 – 7 with a 28th minute penalty but Pienaar restored Ulsters seven point lead two minutes later knocking over a long range effort of his own. Allan was on target again on the 35th minute to, once again, reduce the arrears to four points and the teams turned round with the score reading Treviso 6 Ulster 10. 

The visitors found some form after the break and, with Treviso’s Filo Paulo in the bin, Rob Herring finished off a driving maul on the 54th minute and Jacob Stockdale sent Pienaar through for a converted try, four minutes later, to take the score to 6 – 22. At that point it looked like the bonus point was in the bag, surely Ulster could find another try with over twenty minutes on the clock?  

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. A bit of fiddling about with substitutions and then a binning for Rob Herring slowed the pace right down as Ulster blundered their way through the final quarter. They had their chances but lacked the composure to finish them off, the game, somewhat fittingly, ending with a last minute try for Treviso. 

Ulster: Louis Ludik, Robert Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Jacob Stockdale, Brett Herron, Ruan Pienaar, Kyle McCall, Rob Herring, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Franco vd Merwe, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson. Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Pete Browne, Robbie Diack, Angus Lloyd, Stuart McCloskey, Darren Cave.

I’d gone for a bonus point win for Ulster in my prediction and that’s exactly what it should have been, though, in fairness, with Dudley Philips refereeing it is hard sometimes for a game to break out! 

Even with the “Phillips effect” this was still a point lost as Ulster had sufficient chances but sadly lacked the wherewithal to finish it off. I don’t like to proportion blame, and it’s hard to do so as so many players were under par, but I was disappointed with our two new signings who got their first official outing in this game. Rodney Ah You was Rodney Oh No, but he’s exactly what we bought and there’s no sign, as yet, of any improvement on my rating as a second stringer for Connacht. If he could be made to either punch his weight or stay on his feet then he would be an asset but at the moment he’s a placeholder!

However I was more disappointed with Treadwell, mostly because the expectation was so much higher. Unfortunately it was nearly thirty minutes before I remembered he was playing and I should be watching him and when i did see him he just didn’t look fit!  I’ve been told he can drift along and then explode into a flurry of activity but we haven’t seen it yet and it’s no coincidence that Ulster’s fortunes did improve when a proper grafter, in Pete Browne, replaced Treadwell in the boiler room.

Ulster really have to have higher aspirations than this. Make no mistake this was a below par performance and if we miss out on a home semi final because of this I’ll be billing this team for my travel costs for our annual end of season humiliation by Leinster! 

To end on a positive note, it’s a big well done to Clive Ross, who was a class above throughout, and it was good to see Darren Cave back on the pitch.