Ulster move into top four
PRO12 REPORT: Ulster moved into the top four with a 10-try success over Zebre in their re-arranged Round Nine fixture.
Luke Marshall and Charles Piutau both scored a brace of tries as Ruan Pienaar, Jacob Stockdale, Craig Gilroy, John Andrew, Paul Marshall and Stuart Olding all got on the scoresheet. Pienaar slotted six conversions with Olding adding three more when he replaced the South African.
The Irish province secured the try bonus point after just half an hour and the victory, their fifth in succession, moves them four points above fifth-placed Scarlets in the league table.
Gideon Koegelenberg was shown a yellow card for a high tackle after just four minutes and Ulster opened the scoring soon after when Luke Marshall dived into the left corner. But Zebre, who saw Bordoli miss a penalty, were back level after a break by Quintin Geldenhuys released prop Andrea De Marchi to charge over and make it 7-7.
Marshall's second try came after 15 minutes as he benefitted from strong build-up play by Piutau and Jared Payne, with Pienaar adding his second conversion. Pienaar dotted down and converted Ulster's third try to put them 21-7 ahead after 18 minutes and Marshall thought he had his hat-trick but saw his score ruled out by the TMO.
And Piutau got the bonus point try with a lovely inside line after a delicate offload from Payne, with Stockdale extending the Ulster lead to 35-7 at the break.
Gilroy continued Ulster's momentum five minutes into the second period, with Pienaar adding the conversion once more before Piutau got his second of the night to make it 47-7. Ulster still weren't finished as Andrew had try number eight, as Gilroy's grubber kick was collected by Paul Marshall who offloaded to the replacement to go under the posts.
Olding knocked over the conversion with 54 minutes gone, before the TMO denied Ulster their ninth on the hour mark.
Zebre had their second try of the evening on 67 minutes as a poor clearance from Ulster was punished by the Italians and Guglielmo Roan went over to make it 54-14. Olding had a try of his own barely two minutes later, as the Zebre defence bought his dummy and he was able to sneak in under the posts and converted his own score.
Paul Marshall had Ulster's final try of the evening, again converted by Olding, but Zebre left Kingspan with three tries of their own after a late Lloyd Greeff score.
Tries: L Marshall 2, Pienaar, Piutau 2, Stockdale, Gilroy, Andrew, Olding, P Marshall
Cons: Pienaar 6, Olding 3
Tries: de Marchi, Roan, Greeff
Cons: Bordoli, Palazzani 2
Yellow card: Gideon Koegelenberg (Zebre, 3)
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Jacob Stockdale, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Stuart, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Allan O'Connor, 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (captain), 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Rodney Ah You , 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Pete Nelson, 23 David Busby
Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Lloyd Greeff, 10 Serafin Bordoli, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Federico Ruzza, 7 Gideon Koegelenberg, 6 Matteo Cornelli, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (captain), 3 Bartholomeus Le Roux, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea De Marchi.
Replacement: 16 Luigi Ferraro, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Julien Nibert, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Malou Mornas
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans (Wales), Dermot Blake (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)