Ulster into playoff places after hammering Zebre

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By Q Radio Sport

Ulster ran in ten tries as they tore Guinness PRO12 basement dwellers Zebre apart on their way to a 68-21 victory that takes them back into the league's top four.

Stuart Olding pulled the strings for the hosts, who were at their very best at the Kingspan Stadium, as they returned to the play-off places in style and now once again have their top four destiny in their own hands.

Within three minutes things started going badly for the visitors as openside flanker Gideon Koegelenberg saw yellow for a high tackle on Stuart Olding, and Ulster immediately capitalised as Luke Marshall went over in the sixth minute.

But the Kingspan Stadium was shocked when 14-man Zebre levelled the scores with a well worked try, two linebreaks and an excellent offload setting loosehead prop Andrea de Marchi over for a great try.

Normal service was quickly resumed, however, as excellent hands from Charles Piutau and Jared Payne sent Marshall over for his second in the opening 13 minutes, and then Piutau again turned provider as his offload put Stuart Olding into space and the fly half was able to send over Ruan Pienaar.

The fantastic start to the game continued as the Irish province thought they had the bonus point in the 19th minute, only for the TMO to rule scorer Marshall was in front of Craig Gilroy when he kicked the ball.


Even worse was the loss of Marcell Coetzee, who limped off with a knee injury, especially after his nine month layoff with a similar problem, but it didn't impact on field matters as the Ulstermen added their fourth in the 25th minute, Payne setting Piutau over for it.

On the half hour mark they had their fifth, Olding's short pass sending through Jacob Stockdale for the seven pointer, and they nearly hit the 40 mark by the break only for Payne to drop the ball metres from the line.

They didn't relent after the break though, and after just four minutes of the second half they had the sixth as Craig Gilroy danced over, and then Zebre winger Lloyd Greef made a huge mistake, dropping the ball over the line two minutes later allowing Piutau to steal in and dot down.

The tries kept flowing as substitute John Andrew got in on the act, getting on the end of a Craig Gilroy kick through to score, while they had another try ruled out by the TMO as Clive Ross was adjudged to impede a Zebre defender as Paul Marshall went over.

To their credit, the visitors did pick up a second try through prop Guillermo Roan who pounced on a loose ball to stretch over the line and score in the 66th minute, but Ulster immediately struck back as man of the match Olding produced a brilliant dummy to fool the Zebre defence and sprint over.

Ulster notched their tenth with eight minutes to go as Paul Marshall cantered over from a turnover in midfield, and although Zebre had the last laugh through a late Greef try, the night belonged to Ulster and their great performance.

The scorers

For Ulster
Tries: L Marshall (2), Pienaar, Piutau (2), Stockdale, Gilroy, Andrew, Olding, P Marshall
Cons: Pienaar (5), Olding (4)

For Zebre
Tries: de Marchi, Roan, Greef
Cons: Bordoli, Palazzani (2)

(15-9) Jared Payne (Peter Nelson 54), Craig Gilroy, Jacob Stockdale, Luke Marshall, Charles Piutau (David Busby 72), Stuart Olding, Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 45); (1-8) Callum Black (Andrew Warwick 49), Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst (Rodney Ah You 49), Kieran Treadwell, Alan O'Connor (Franco van der Merwe 65), Robbie Diack, Chris Henry (John Andrew 49), Marcell Coetzee (Clive Ross 17).

(15-9) Dion Berryman, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Boni (Matteo Pratichetti 61), Tommaso Castello, Lloyd Greef, Serafin Bordoli (Malou Mornas 65), Carlo Engelbrecht (Guglielmo Palazzani 40); (1-8) Andrea de Marchi (Bruno Postiglioni 54), Oliviero Fabiani (Luigi Ferraro 63), Bartholomeus le Roux (Guillermo Roan 54), Quintin Geldenhuys, Valerio Bernabo (Joshua Furno 49), Matteo Cornelli (Julian Nibert 63), Gideon Koegelenberg, Federico Ruzza.

Yellow card: Gideon Koegelenberg (3')

Man of the Match: Stuart Olding (Ulster)
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)

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