Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Benetton Rugby v Ulster

Becky Grey 8 Sep 2017

Ulster make the trip to Treviso on the back of a dominant display over the Toyota Cheetahs, while Benetton Rugby seek revenge against Irish opponents on home soil after an away defeat to Munster in Round 1. The match will get underway on Saturday at 6.05pm local time in the Stadio Monigo.

What’s at stake? Benetton will be looking to make an impact in their first home game of the Guinness PRO14 season and, given they have not lost successive fixtures since March, a victory is due after last week’s loss. They face a tough task, though, as visitors Ulster have all the momentum after welcoming the Cheetahs to the Kingspan with a 42-19 defeat.

Team news (Benetton Rugby): It is all change in the backline for the Italian side as Jayden Hayward comes in at full-back, while Alberto Sgarbi steps in to captain the side at outside centre. This means a move out to the left wing for Tommaso Benvenuti and Ian McKinley, full-back last week, comes up to fly-half. The forwards are slightly more consistent, with summer recruit Federico Ruzza getting his first start of the season in the second row.

Team news (Ulster): Irish internationals Jacob Stockdale, Kieran Treadwell and Luke Marshall make their return to Guinness PRO14 rugby. Director of rugby Les Kiss has made five changes in total, with Stockdale joining Andrew Trimble and Louis Ludik in the back three in the absence of Charles Piutau. Callum Black joins the front row, replacing Kyle McCall, while Treadwell pairs up with Robbie Diack at lock. Matthew Rea makes his first start for Ulster in the back row with fellow flanker Sean Reidy, who comes in for Chris Henry at openside.

Talking points: Ulster did not pick up any injuries last week, but Kiss has still made significant changes to his matchday 23. One notable absence is Piutau, one of six try-scorers against the Cheetahs last week. Head coach Jono Gibbes said such rotations will be commonplace so that every player in the squad feels included, but Benetton will look to take advantage of these changes on home turf.

Key Battle: With Tommaso Allan’s move to inside centre and Tommy Bowe coming in off the wing, it seems as if the powers that be deliberately set up this intriguing midfield encounter. Bowe made his return from a broken ankle in emphatic style last week, scoring Ulster’s first try of the season. Meanwhile, Benetton’s top-scorer in 2016/17 is raring to get out of the blocks after being halted by a solid Munster defence last week.

Key stat: Ulster’s John Cooney made the most passes in Round 1, with 109.

Did you know? Benetton have won two of their last three matches at Stadio Monigo but have not beaten an Irish province at any venue since Connacht visited Treviso in April 2016.

Benetton Rugby: J Hayward; A Esposito, A Sgarbi, T Allan, T Benvenuti; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; F Zani, L Bigi, S Ferrari; M Lazzaroni, F Ruzza; F Minto, S Negri, W Douglas.

Replacements: E Makelara, C Traore, T Pasquali, M Barbini, A Steyn, G Bronzini, E Gori, M Zanon.

Ulster: L Ludik; A Trimble, T Bowe, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst; R Diack, K Treadwell; M Rea, S Reidy, J Deysel.

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, P Browne, C Henry, D Shanahan, P Nelson, Luke Marshall.

TV: BBC Sport NI (KO 5.05pm)

Match officials – Referee: Dan Jones (WRU). Assistant Referee 1: Ian Davies (WRU). AR2: Claudio Blessano (FIR). TMO: Sean Brickell (WRFU).

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Ulster secure hard-fought win over valiant Benetton

Fiona Tomas 9 Sep 2017

ANDREW Trimble scored a brace as Ulster made it two wins from two with a gritty 21-14 victory over a stubborn Benetton side at Stadio Monigo.

Skipper Andrew Trimble lead from the front to put the visitors ahead early on, tiptoeing his way through the Benetton’s defence after a stray ball had bounced awkwardly from a penalty line-out, with Cooney adding the conversion.

Despite periods of sloppinness, the momentum stayed with Ulster after Trimble broke from midfield on the 20-minute mark.

The fullback showcased some fine interplay with Cooney as the pair combined expertly to exploit a defensive gap for the captain to cross the whitewash, before Cooney added the extras.

It was Cooney who proved the difference during the first half, with the number ten getting to the breakdown early and dictating the game at pace, which Benetton could not handle.

And the scrum-half kept his side in the game during a scrappy first-half, pushing Angel Esposito into touch when the winger tried to dive in the corner.

It was a frustrating game for both sides, whoboth struggled to retain possession and committed several handling errors, with Benetton doing just enough to stop Ulster’s fluidity.

Despite going in at the break two converted tries up, it was the Italian outfit who started the second half on the front foot, before replacement prop Cherif Traore spilt the ball in Ulster’s 22 to avert any danger for the Irish side.

Having tried to wear Benetton down through the phases, Ulster could not capitalise as Jacob Stockwell pounced on a Luke Marshall chip, before a wayward offload saw Benetton regain possession.

But it was the away side who advanced after the excellent Cooney charged down a Benetton clearance kick, with Stockdale pouncing on the loose ball to dive over the line and score his tenth league try in an Ulster shirt.

The trusty boot of Cooney made it three conversions from three and with a 21-0 lead, the northern province appeared to be in the driving seat.

But Benetton’s forward pack rallied and scored a 65th minute try through summer recruit Federico Ruzza, who wasted no time in opening his account in his first start for the Italian outfit.

Ian McClinley slotted home to put the Benetton within touching distance of a famous comeback – which nearly materialised after Tommasso Allan raced onto his own chip before offloading to his fellow fly-half, who raced under the posts to spark a pulsating last ten minutes.

But it was Ulster who held firm to secure their second victory of the new campaign and leave Benetton still searching for their first.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138