Record-breaking Andrew Trimble celebrated his 190th Ulster cap tonight at the Kingspan Stadium by helping his side power to a seven-try victory over Benetton Treviso, helpless against the pace of the province's backs and the power of their forwards.
Craig Gilroy contributed two of the seven scores - the first a belting effort which saw him start in his own half and elude six opponents on his way to the line. Paul Marshall added another, while forwards Dan Tuohy, Sean Reidy, Peter Browne and Lewis Stevenson all scored from close range as the Ulster pack flexed its muscles.
Trimble's return from injury to the starting XV was one of four personnel changes implemented by Head Coach Neil Doak, as an otherwise unchanged backline featured Louis Ludik at full-back, Gilroy on the left wing, Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey in the centre, Peter Nelson at out-half and Paul Marshall at scrum-half.
Tuohy, Robbie Diack and Reidy all came into the first team at lock, blindside and openside respectively, with an unchanged front row of Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring and Wiehahn Herbst packing down in front of Tuohy and Browne, selected for his second consecutive cap. Meanwhile Roger Wilson traded the number six jersey for number eight in the absence of Nick Williams, unavailable due to personal reasons.
Trimble was in action as early as the second minute, kicking and chasing toward the right-hand corner flag, then forcing full-back Jayden Hayward into touch as he recuperated the ball under pressure.
Ulster kicked a subsequent penalty to touch and persistence from their forwards along the five-metre line - with virtually everyone from one to eight getting hands on ball as play spread left to right - saw Tuohy touch down on seven minutes, converted by McCloskey.
The hosts' makeshift kicker added a penalty to his tally moments later, and as Hayward fluffed his lines with a chance for three points on the quarter-hour mark, Luke Marshall acrobatically vaulted a lunging tackle on the right touchline to set up the next Ulster attack.
It came to naught as McCloskey screwed an eventual penalty wide, but a pacy burst from Nelson and well-drilled rolling maul soon got Sean Reidy in for his first try in provincial colours.
McCloskey again added the extras before yet another driving lineout took Ulster close to the line, only for tighthead Rupert Harden to infringe and book himself ten minutes in the bin - soon to be joined by number eight Roberto Barbieri as the Italians repeatedly resorted to foul means to obstruct the Ulster progress.
The inevitable third try came once Treviso eventually allowed the set-piece to proceed, Paul Marshall fishing out of the back of the scrum and exposing the two-man gap to scamper over himself.
Gilroy provided the coup de grâce just before the break, picking up from Trimble on his own 10-metre line and scything his way through six would-be tacklers to secure the bonus point and treat the Kingspan Stadium to one of the finest individual tries seen in recent years.
Half-Time Score Ulster 27 Benetton Treviso 0
Treviso responded brightly as the second half opened, out-half Sam Christie capping a good five-minute spell of pressure to stretch over for his side's first points, converted by Hayward.
The try proved just the wake-up call Ulster needed, as yet another lineout push on 55 minutes made the space for Browne to pick up from Wilson, halted by the tackle two metres from home, and dive between the posts.
Gilroy added the sixth just after the hour mark off McCloskey's diagonal run and short pass and, after Nelson this time had converted off the upright, a new-look Ulster with all eight replacements onfield powered their way to another mauling try - Stevenson's very first in his five seasons with the province.
Next up for Ulster are high-flying Edinburgh at Murrayfield in two weeks' time, before Cardiff Blues visit Belfast on Friday 23rd October.
Full-Time Score Ulster 48 Benetton Treviso 7
Ulster (15 - 9) L Ludik; A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; P Nelson, P Marshall (1 - 8) A Warwick, R Herring (c), W Herbst, P Browne, D Tuohy, R Diack, S Reidy, R Wilson
Replacements (16 - 23) P Jackson, C Black, B Ross, L Stevenson, C Ross, D Shanahan, S Arnold, R Scholes
Benetton Treviso (15 - 9) J Hayward; L Nitoglia, T Iannone, A Pratichetti, S Ragusi; S Christie, C Smylie (1 - 8) M Zanusso, R Santamaria, R Harden, D Naude, T Palmer, M Barbini, D Budd, R Barbieri
Replacements (16 - 23) L Bigi, Al De Marchi, S Ferrari, J-F Montauriol, An De Marchi, B Steyn, A Lucchese, J Ambrosini.