Pro14: Ulster score three tries in 22-7 win over Zebre at Kingspan Stadium
|Pro14: Ulster v Zebre|
|Ulster: (10) 22|
|Tries: Shanahan, Penalty Try, Lyttle Con: Johnston Pen: Johnston|
|Zebre: (7) 7|
|Try: Bellini Con: Canna|
Ulster had to work hard for their 22-7 win against Zebre at Kingspan Stadium.
Mattia Bellini scored early for the Italians in the Pro14 contest, before a Dave Shanahan try and five points from the tee for Bill Johnston gave Ulster a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Ulster created more pressure after the break and earned a penalty try when Zebre collapsed their maul near the line.
Rob Lyttle collected a Johnston chip to seal the win with a try in the corner.
The visitors had made the brighter start when they won possession from the kickoff and drove straight into the Ulster 22.
Winger Bellini took a slick Palazzani inside ball to touch down and give his side the lead.
Zebre continued to put the home team under pressure but then Coetzee broke a tackle and offloaded to man-of-the-match Marshall, who stormed into Zebre territory and passed inside to create a try for Shanahan.
Ulster were more composed after the break and took control of possession and territory, but struggled to take their chances in the rain.
Shanahan, again combining with Marshall, was inches short of a second try, and Rob Herring had one denied for obstruction, but Ulster scored a penalty try when their former colleague Ian Nagle snuffed out a maul illegally.
With Nagle in the sin bin, Ulster had momentum but Zebre held on until he returned.
Giovanni Licata then blocked Craig Gilroy as he raced after a kick in the 22, and he too received a yellow card.
This time, Ulster took advantage and after a series of drives in Zebre territory, Johnson probed the Italian defence with a kick to the corner and Lyttle, who shone earlier with a stunning break, finished it.
With Zebre a man down, the bonus point beckoned, but in wet conditions, Ulster ultimately had to settle for four.
Ulster: Addison; Ludik, Faddes, Marshall, Lyttle; Johnston, Shanahan; McGrath, Herring (capt.), O'Toole, O'Connor, Treadwell, Rea, Timoney, Coetzee.
Replacements: McBurney for Herring 72, McCall for McGrath 72, Kane for O'Toole 72, Carter for O'Connor 55, Reidy for Timoney 52, Cooney for Shanahan 72, Curtis for Ludik 52 , Gilroy for Addison 17.
Zebre: Laloifi; Walker, Elliott, Boni, Bellini; Canna, Palazzani, Fischetti, Fabiani, Zilocchi, Nagle, Biagi, Mbanda, Licata, Giammarioli.
Replacements: Bigi for Fabiani 50, Rimpelli for Fischetti 65, Bello for Zilocchi 59, Krumov for Biagi 52, Tauyavua for Walker 73, Tenga, Lucchin for Boni 55, Renton for Laloifi 61
Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU)
Assistants: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Hollie Davidson (SRU)
TMO: Neil Patterson (SRU)