HAPPY HEINEKEN CUP Saturday, rugby fans.
We’re wrapped up and seated in the east stand of Ravenhill, ready and waiting for this pool five meeting betweet Ulster and Treviso.
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Ulster 48 Treviso 0
17.12 – The busy pre-Christmas rush just wouldn’t be the same without some serious rugby action to relieve the stress now would it?
You’re very welcome along to our liveblog of Ulster v Treviso in the Heineken Cup. It’s the first of the head-to-head meetings between these sides and the second of four straight Italian weekends for Ulster.
17.16 – Now, there’s still plenty of time to kill before kick off, so take a hold of our big match preview here and get familiar with the runners and riders below while I warm my typing fingers up with drop of tae.
Ulster: Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Tom Court, Rob Herring, John Afoa, Johann Muller (capt), Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle, Roger Wilson.
Niall Annett, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Paul Marshall, Michael Allen, David McIlwaine.
Treviso: Luke McLean, Ludovico Nitoglia, Michele Campagnaro, Alberto Sgarbi, Angelo Esposito, Mat Berquist, Edoardo Gori, Alberto de Marchi, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello (capt), Cornelius van Zyl, Alessandro Zanni, Dean Budd, Roberto Barbieri.
Franco Sbaraglini, Michele Rizzo, Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, Paul Derbyshire, Marco Filippucci, Christian Loamanu, Tobias Botes, James Ambrosini.
17.37 – Right, we’re all warmed up now and watching a bit of pre-match zorbing while the ground fills up.
It’s prediction time. Give us your thoughts on who will win and their margin of victory in the comments section below.
17.49 – Alongside us here, peering down at the pitch in Belfast is one of Ulster’s GPS technicians. We caught up with Craig Gilroy midweek to tell us his side of the science that no rugby team can do without.
17.56 – The contented milling around the ground is put on hold as Johann Muller leads the other 22 members of the squad in front of the stand and back into the warmth of the dressing room.
The voices rise with the flags and Andrew Trimble looked into the front row of the crowd with a steely gaze that looked like he was trying to absorb all the energy for his own use.
They’ll go in, have a quick change into their jerseys and come out fully pumped for the kick-off.
17.57 – Time for another read before kick-off? Why not let Johann Muller talk you through the line-out. You’ll see plenty tonight.
18.02 – We’ve no late changes from the sides named below, but the same can’t be said for Ulster’s match-programme which has roughly half of the correct names printed.
No doubt the Italians were only too happy to offer a ringer XV when the printers called early this week.
Te teams are out and we’ll have a minute’s silence in respect of the great Nelson Mandela.
The Ravenhill revamp is almost complete. Credit: Sean Farrell
18.04 – KICK OFF: Right, we’re under way and Berquist kicks deep in Ulster territory. It’s claimed with ease and the hosts maul their way out of the redzone before Pienaar puts up a Garryowen.
18.08 – Wow. The knock on from that kick came so close to bringing an early try. Ulster quickly leapt on the loose ball and went down the righ hand channel early, unfortunately the knock-on ended the chance. But Gilroy collected the clearance kick and immediately counter-attacked.
Again, Pienaar targets the Treviso left, but again the knock-on means the chance fizzles out.
Ulster win the following scrum and now will line up attacking the left wing.
18.08 – TRY! Ulster 5 Treviso 0 (Jackson)
18.12 – Apologies for the delay with some updates, folks. Ulster’s Wifi ain’t what it might be.
The high-tempo start has paid dividends. That scrum led to a series of quick phases on the Treviso five-metre line with Robbie Diack and Luke MArshall making important carries before the ball was switched back to the right wing where Paddy Jackson was able to crash over the line.
Great try, but a difficult angle for the conversion and Jackson failed to raise the flags to leave the score at 5 – 0.
18.15 – TRY! Ulster 29 Treviso 0
18.20 – Awe, superb steal from Dan Tuohy as the ball goes loose in a Treviso attack and the turnover ball is quickly turned into attack and a try for Luke Marshall , receiving Payne’s pass and weaving in and out of diving defenders before cruising over for try number two.
Jackson makes the conversion. Brilliant stuff.
TRY: Ulster 12 Treviso 0 (L Marshall)
18.25 – 21 mins: A feint ripple of SUFTUM turns into a stadium-wide chorus as Berquist tries to find a gap in the white wall lining Ulster’s third of the field. Nothing doing though, Esposito knock on an Ulster win a free kick from the scrum.
18.29 – Whoa. An uncharacteristic error from Pienaar there, sending a box-kick vertical right over a ruck on the five metre line.
The confusion forces Wilson to seal off the next ruck, but Treviso refuse the gimme three points and will instead try to drive from the line-out.
18.32 – Superb defence from Ulster after that line-out. No way through for the visitors and once Jackson clears play up to half way, Wilson instigates a fierce contest for the ball on the deck and the penalty is awarded the way of the hosts.
Try three coming up, you feel.
18.33 – TRY! Ulster 19 Treviso 0 (Afoa ’30)
All too easily finished off if you’re looking at this from an Italian point of view. Ulster take the ball in off the line-out and are asked just three phases of defensive questions from Treviso, before John Afoa steps off his left and bullocks over near the posts.
18.37 – 50 minutes for Ulster to get a bonus point now. And with Franco Smith’s tenure ending next week, this Treviso side look a sorry reflection of what they’re capable of. If Ulster keep the pedal down, they just might be able to rack up another handful of tries.
18.40 – Superb stuff from Andrew Trimble in the loose, carrying into any and every gap that opens up in midfield before adventuring too far and turning the ball over.
18.41 – No animosity from the crowd towards Afoa here tonight. His latest carry isn’t profitable, but it brought a bit of expectation to the crowd after a smart move off the base of a ruck by Wilson.
18.43 – 38 mins: Ulster are searching for a bonus point here. Brilliant openside play from Sean Doyle clearing everything before him after Gilroy carried to within five metres.
The penalty for sealing off brings a bit of debate, but the kick goes to touch rather than the posts and Ulster’s pack will take over here.
18.45 – This time, the green line holds firm. Well, firm in that they only concede a penalty. The advantage is lost with a knock-on out wide but Jackson makes no mistake with the kick.
HALF TIME: Ulster 22 Treviso 0
19.00 – Y’all ready for the second half? Tough it’s here anyway.
19.07 – The visitors look a little sharper in this second half, but they still allowed Pienaar scamper 20 metres up the left wing before Gilroy’s knock-on allowed Luke McLean worry the less mobile red-handed forwards on the counter attack.
19.12 – Damage limitation now for the visitors and their canny pack managed to eat up three minutes with a five-metre scrum. Ulster held firm to win the penalty, but Roberto Barieri was soon back in attack and attempted to chip over the Payne, the last man of defence. Fortunately, Gilroy had nipped in behind to mop up.
Still Treviso are awarded a penalty 40 metres out and they will come again.
19.13 – SIN BIN: Luke Marshall (50 minutes)
19.14 – The young centre is sent for a breather after being pinged for sealing off on his own try-line.
This is not how most here in Ravenhill envisaged this second half going.
19.20 – So, Ulster with 14 men and so still making heavy work of this second half.
The next penalty goes their way however as Treviso hold on in the tackle and allows Jackson move play up the flank.
19.23 – A try completely against the run of the second half play there as Ulster use that line-out to devastating effect. Tuohy making a big break through the middle and offloading to Cave.
Once the centre is tripped up he returns the favour and after a quick check with the TMO. Jackson in lining up a conversion to make it.
TRY: Ulster 29 Treviso 0 (Cave ’59)
19.44 – FULL TIME: Ulster 48 Treviso 0
19.27 – Now, an hour in and Ulster have all five points secured. But they’re not done yet.
TRY: Ulster 36 Treviso 0 ( Doyle ’64)
19.30 – Another fine move from the hosts, but with little resistance from the visitors. Tuohy makes another big inroad down the right-hand channel and the defenders he sucks in makes space further out left for Doyle to come crashing in on a gorgeous running line before giving the crowd an ‘Ash Splash’ under the posts.
19.33 – Five points, five tries. This one’s in the bag so Anscombe is calling his thoroughbreds to be hosed before going home. Jared Payne and John Afoa are among the first called ashore.
19.34 – TRY: Ulster 41 Treviso 0 (Trimble 69)
19.36 – Big Andy Trimble’s last act before being replaced by McIlwaine is to collect a perfectly timed Darren Cave pass and muscle his way to the corner. The TMO is again called for, but again it’s good.
Jackson’s sixth conversion attempt of the night comes back off the post.
19.38 – TRY! Ulster 48 Treviso 0 (L Marshall 74)
And that’s seven! No mercy from Ulster here as Jackson scythes through the defence on the half-way line and finds Marshall tearing up in support on the right wing.
The centre stumbles briefly, but has enough in the tank to power on home. This time Jackson’s kick is on the money and Ulster are within spitting distance of a half century.
19.47 – And that’s that folks. Goodness knows what kind of challenge Treviso will offer next week.
But you can only beat what’s in front of you as they saying goes and Ulster (barring a bizarre third quarter) did that with aplomb, punishing the visitors with seven tries and a pristine clean sheet.
That’s all from me, folks. Stay tuned to TheScore.ie for some reaction from Ravenhill tonight and tomorrow.