Heineken Cup Pool Four: Ulster 31-10 Aironi

Ulster forward Stephen Ferris gets over for the first try against Aironi
Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris gets over for the first try against Aironi

Ulster secured the bonus-point win they needed against Aironi at Ravenhill to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.

Flanker Stephen Ferris powered his way over for the first try on 16 minutes and full-back Adam D'Arcy got through for the second before half-time.

A try by winger Andrew Trimble gave Brian McLaughlin's men the ideal start to the second half.

Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson scored further tries before Tommaso D'Apice got Aironi's consolation.

Ulster, who lost to Leicester in their only away game in the competition so far, will aim for another bonus-point victory in the return fixture against Aironi in Italy next Saturday.

The Irish province spurned early penalties to go for tries but they came to nothing.

However, they made the breakthrough when a long pass from Ruan Pienaar saw fellow South African Pedrie Wannenburg lay off to Ferris and he powered through one tackle and scored in the left corner.

Ian Humphreys nailed a great conversion for 7-0, though Tito Tebaldi narrowed the home side's lead with a penalty.

Tebaldi should have put the Italians a point behind but missed from a fairly straightforward position after 32 minutes.

The home side were also given a considerable boost by the sin-binning of full-back Giulio Toniolatti and with seven men now in the Aironi scrum, Ulster shoved them backwards and won the put-in in the Italians' 22 late in the half.

From there, after a couple of minutes of constant pressure, full-back D'Arcy scored in the same corner as Ferris to give Ulster a 12-3 half-time lead.

D'Arcy supplied the pass to put Trimble in some space though the Ireland winger had to work hard for his score, which was unconverted by Humphreys to make it 17-3.

When Aironi were penalised for offside, replacement scrum-half Marshall scored from a quick tap for the bonus score Ulster had needed so much. Humphreys slotted the conversion and Ulster led 24-3.

Substitute Jackson ran a nice loop and made the try line and Humphreys converted again for 31-3.

Replacement hooker D'Apice's late score, converted by Naas Oliver, was little consolation for Aironi.

Ulster: D'Arcy, Trimble, Cave, Spence, Gilroy, Humphreys, Pienaar, McAllister, Best, Afoa, Muller, Tuohy, Ferris, Henry, Wannenburg.

Replacements: Terblanche for Trimble (50), Jackson for Spence (53), P. Marshall for Pienaar (50), Court for McAllister (50).

Not used: Kyriacou, Macklin, Stevenson, Diack.

Aironi: Toniolatti, Sinoti, Quartaroli, Pizarro, Pratichetti, Tebaldi, Keats, Perugini, Ongaro, Romano, Del Fava, Bortolami, Cattina, Favaro, Sole.

Replacements: Bronzini for Tebaldi (50), A De Marchi for Perugini (54), D'Apice for Ongaro (63).

Not used: Redolfini, Biagi, Ferrarini, Olivier, Benettinuts.

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

Att: 7,494