Pro12: Ulster 32-0 Zebre
|Ulster (20) 32|
|Tries: Williams 2, Browne, P Marshall Cons: Jackson 3 Pens: Jackson 2|
|Zebre (0) 0|
Two Nick Williams tries helped Ulster get back to winning ways in the Pro12 as they earned a bonus-point victory over Zebre at Kingspan Stadium.
After Paddy Jackson kicked two early penalties, the superb Williams finished off a well-constructed line-out maul to score his first try in the 11th minute.
Further Ulster pressure yielded a second try for Williams on 30 minutes.
Ulster laboured during the second half but a Peter Browne try and late Paul Marshall score secured the bonus point.
The Irish province looked set to miss out on the extra point as the clock ticked down but a break from replacement Darren Cave helped set Marshall's crucial 78th-minute score.
Ulster kept Zebre scoreless but it was not a particularly impressive display by Les Kiss' side, who remain fourth in the table after third-placed Scarlets beat Treviso.
The Irish province badly needed a win to maintain their push for a play-off place after back-to-back defeats by the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues.
Jackson's two early penalties gave Ulster a cushion as they punished Zebre indiscipline.
Another Zebre infringement was finished off by man of the match Williams mauling his way over the line after Jackson had opted to kick to the corner.
A missed tackle by Rob Herring meant Stuart Olding had to produce a try-saving tackle to deny Edoardo Padovani before more Ulster pressure was finished off by a second Williams touchdown.
After Ulster's scrum held firm in first-half injury-time to repel Zebre pressure, the Irish side appeared to have all the mental momentum heading into the second period.
Ulster did seem hard done by when TMO Kevin Beggs ruled that Rob Herring had knocked on before Williams appeared to notch his third try
However after lock Browne's 63rd-minute try, Zebre fought back to produce pressure as Ulster lost their way and the home side needed Cave's late break to set up replacement scrum-half Marshall's bonus-point clinching try.
Ulster: C Gilroy; R Scholes, L Marshall, S Olding, J Stockdale; P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring (captain), R Lutton, P Browne, F van der Merwe, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams;
Replacements: J Andrew for Herring (57), C Black for McCall (66), A Warwick for Lutton (47), R Wilson for Williams (64), S Reidy for Browne (65), P Marshall for Pienaar (75), D Cave for L Marshall (64). Not Used: S Windsor.
Zebre: M Muliaina; G Toniolatti, G Bisegni, T Castello*, K Van Zyl; E Padovani, F Semenzato; A De Marchi, O Fabiani, D Chistolini; Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami (capt); E Caffini, J Meyer, F Ruzza.
Replacements: E Coria for Fabiana (73), G Roan for A De Marchi (41), P Ceccarelli for Chistonlini (53), G Koegelenberg for Geldenhuys (66), F Cristiano for Ruzza (65), L Burgess for Semenzato (53), I McKinley for Padovani (41), G Toniolatti for Castello (67).