Treviso started the game ideally, gaining good ground after an early Ulster knock-on and earning a fourth-minute penalty which was duly dispatched by out-half Willem De Waal. With the Italians penalised in turn three minutes later, Humphreys seized the opportunity to cancel out that effort and level things at Ulster 3 Treviso 3.
Another Ulster knock-on on 10 minutes, after an easily charged-down clearance attempt, gave Treviso possession again in the danger zone, but, after a drop-goal attempt came to naught, Ulster moved up a gear and, when Trimble picked up in his own half and created some space, suddenly looked very threatening. The winger accelerated, picked out the right pass on the Italians' 22, and after a quick cross-field exchange between Faloon and Best, the ball found the grateful Pienaar, who slid in to ground just left of the posts. Humphreys converted to make the score Ulster 10 Treviso 3.
Treviso shortened the gap at the end of the first quarter with a well-taken De Waal penalty from only metres inside the Ulster half, but this was again rapidly nullified by the boot of Humphreys, whose audacious penalty from half-way earned three points courtesy of the right-hand post and crossbar.
Better yet came on 25 minutes when, with another penalty looming in Ulster's favour, Humphreys supplied D'Arcy in the middle of the park and the young full-back made good ground before offloading to Spence. The pass was not quite accurate enough, but the quick-thinking centre had the nous to kick on and chase, and was rewarded with the five points. Humphreys' conversion upped the score to Ulster 20 Treviso 6.
Ravenhill barely had time to catch its breath before Trimble carved up the Italians' midfield again, this time right through the centre. Once more the winger timed his pass to perfection, supplying Pienaar directly this time, and the Springbok scrum-half looked for all the world like he would score a carbon-copy of his first try. The number nine, who had picked up a slight knock in the opening minutes, somehow got caught, but had the presence of mind to release the ball early, and D'Arcy was on hand to pick up quickly recycled ball and register try number three. The score rose to Ulster 27 Treviso 3 thanks to Humphreys' conversion.
The bonus point was sealed five minutes before the interval, with a pick-up and drive from the line-out which was eventually landed by Best. Humphreys put a foot wrong for the first time in the match with a missed conversion, but may not have been too concerned, with the score sitting at Ulster 32 Treviso 6.
To their credit, Treviso kept coming as the half drew to a close, but the Ulster defence was in a miserly mood and kept their pack at bay until the whistle.
Half-Time Score Ulster 32 Treviso 6
With Paul Marshall taking over from Pienaar at half-time, Treviso continued their efforts from the tail-end of the first half, and were rewarded on 48 minutes with a try from lock Gonzalo Pedro, converted by De Waal to reduce the deficit at Ulster 32 Treviso 13.
A snatch-and-sprint from Tom Court on 50 minutes, after ferocious tackling from Wannenburg had caused panic in the Treviso ranks, promised much but failed to deliver as the recently-introduced Dan Tuohy was crowded out in the Italian '22'. Then Treviso, quite unrecogisable from the first half, powered their way back down the other end, and were unfortunate to drop the ball mere metres from the line.
The match, already over as a contest, then somewhat entered a lull period, until, with five minutes to go, a short Treviso line-out outfoxed Ulster, and the Italians looked to have gone over in the corner. Video evidence showed that Ulster had managed to hold the ball up, though, and Ulster defended manfully as the clock wound down to zero.
Full-Time Score Ulster 32 Treviso 13
(15 - 9) A D'Arcy; A Trimble, N Spence, P Wallace, S Danielli; I Humphreys, R Pienaar
(1 - 8) T Court, R Best (c), BJ Botha, J Muller, T Barker, C Henry, W Faloon, P Wannenburg
Replacements (16 - 23) N Brady, B Young, D Fitzpatrick, D Tuohy, S Ferris, P Marshall, I Whitten, D McIlwaine
(15 - 9) K Burton; L Nitoglia, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, A Vilk; W De Waal, F Semenzato
(1 - 8) I Fernandez Rouyet, L Ghiraldini (c), L Cittadini, G Padro, C Van Zyl, M Filippucci, A Zanni, M Vosawai
Replacements (16 - 23) F Sbaraglini, A Allori, P Di Santo, V Bernabo, P Derbyshire, F Minto, T Bates, G Garcia
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|
|Benetton Treviso Score Card|
|Willem de Waal||1||2||8|