Ulster will need to ensure there is no complacency this weekend according to back rower Clive Ross as they travel to the Stadio Monigo to take on Benetton Treviso.
In the opening round of the Guinness PRO12, Ulster battled back from an early deficit to beat Newport Gwent Dragons 20-8, and take on a Treviso side who pushed Leinster hard.
And after getting the nod in the back row once again, Ross explained that skipper Andrew Trimble has helped the team remain focused.
Ross said: “It’s something Andrew Trimble said during the week, you can’t rely on the emotion of an inter-pro or a big game.
“It’s a challenge in itself to get up for every game and that’s the approach we’re taking.”
Ulster’s starting XV features six changes from the side that took the field in the opening round.
Rob Lyttle has been rewarded for an eye-catching appearance off the bench against the Dragons, when the 19-year-old grabbed a brace of tries, with a starting place on the right wing.
Summer signing Kieran Treadwell will make his first competitive start for the Province when he will partner Franco van der Merwe in the second row.
Rob Herring will again captain the side from hooker and he will be joined in the front row by the recalled Kyle McCall and Rodney Ah You.
The back row trio of Ross, Sean Reidy and Roger Wilson have all been retained, while man of the match last weekend, Ruan Pienaar, will once again line up alongside Brett Herron in the half-backs.
Stuart Olding, making his 50th appearance for the club, will shift from outside to inside centre and will be joined in midfield by fellow Irish international Luke Marshall, while Lyttle is included in the back three with fellow try-scorer from last week, Jacob Stockdale, and the returning Louis Ludik.
Benetton Captain Alessandro Zanni is unavailable due to injury to his knee in the opening minutes of last week’s match against Leinster.
As a result he misses out in the only change to the starting XV, with Marco Barbini taking his place in the back row.
And centre Tommaso Benvenuti, who continues in the centres, is expecting another tough challenge from Ulster.
He said: “Ulster are a very strong opponent, but different to Leinster. They have a lot of pace but are also more physical.
“They have strengthened their squad, especially in the three-quarters, they will look to move the ball quickly and play out wide.
“We will have to be attentive and take points when we can.”
Benetton Treviso: Hayward, Esposito, Benvenuti, McLean (c), Buondonno, Allan, Bronzini; Ferrari, Gega, Fuser, Paulo, Minto, Quaglio, Lazzaroni, Barbini
Replacements: Santamaria, De Marchi, Pasquali, Gerosa, Budd, Gori, McKinley, Odiete
Ulster: Ludik, Lyttle, Marshall, Olding, Stockdale, Herron, Pienaar; McCall, Herring (c), R Ah You, Treadwell, van der Merwe, Ross, Reidy, Wilson
Replacements: Andrew, Warwick, Kane, Browne, Diack, Lloyd, McCloskey, Cave
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 12, Benetton Rugby Treviso won 1, Ulster won 10 and 1 game drawn.
At Stadio Monigo, 18:05 local time (17:05 UK & Ireland) Live on BBC Sport NI
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU, 62nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (SRU), Simone Boaretto (FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Stefano Marrama (FIR)
TMO: Charles Samson (SRU)
Ruan Pienaar continued his impressive start to his final Guinness PRO12 season with Ulster as his 12 points proved crucial in a 22-11 win at Benetton Treviso.
Pienaar crossed in the second half for the visitors’ third score, following up tries from Luke Marshall and captain Robert Herring, with the South African also adding seven points from the boot.
Two Tommaso Allan penalties kept Treviso in contention at 6-10 by half-time, themselves touching down through No.8 Marco Barbani in the final stages at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
But neither team was able to secure a bonus point, with Treviso still yet to get off the mark after two games while Ulster missed out on maximum points from their first away trip of the Guinness PRO12 campaign.
And it was the province who started on the front foot, almost setting up camp in the Treviso 22 in a thoroughly-dominant opening.
The pressure told soon after too, with Marshall needing just six minutes to open the account as Ulster played through the phases with precision to set the outside centre on his way.
There was still plenty to do for the 25-year-old, crashing through the hosts’ back-line to go over, and after the TMO had confirmed its validity, Pienaar added the extras for a 7-0 lead.
It was a lead which Ulster only looked like adding to, with the Italian side finally reaching the right end of the pitch after the quarter-hour mark. The phase almost immediately reaped its rewards, but Allan could only fire wide his kick from distance as Les Kiss’ side maintained their advantage.
Striking heat at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo led to a first-half water break midway through the period, a stoppage which seemed to benefit Treviso, Marco Barbini’s quick-feet forcing an advantage from which Allan this time made no mistake.
But the four-point deficit was not to stay as such for much longer. Pienaar maintained his strong start to the season, following up his nine points from last week’s success over the Dragons to push the lead back to seven points just moments later.
Andrea Buondonno – who signed from fellow Italian outfit Mogliano over the summer – was next to try his luck, with his long-range effort falling short, while Allan kicked successfully from the tee for a second game to keep Ulster in close-watch, all after Pienaar had hit the post from halfway.
And with the visitors needing a strong start to the half, it came down to the captain to deliver. A well-worked driven maul gave Ulster some momentum, allowing Herring to capitalise for his third score in three games on 55 minutes.
While Pienaar missed the extras, it marked the first time in the game where more than one score was the difference, a decisive point of the fixture.
With Treviso pushing for parity, Pienaar exploited space for his second try in two games this season, thanks in no small part to superb play from the backline. That led to Stuart Olding and Jacob Stockdale taking charge of the game, combining to put their scrum-half over for the match’s third try.
After Pienaar converted his own touchdown to give Ulster a 22-6 advantage, the hosts were not to be finished just yet, despite Filo Paulo sitting in the sin-bin for a supposed late tackle.
But when hooker Herring himself went into the bin, it set up a nervy last 15 minutes for a side still chasing a fourth try and the bonus-point reward.
It was Treviso with the final say, however, with Barbini touching over in the closing moments, although Ian McKinley was unable to convert as the game finished with an 11-point difference.
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