Payne treble as Ulster win

Date published: April 16 2016

Ulster gave their PRO12 play-off hopes a shot in the arm with a 47-17 bonus-point win over Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday.

Jared Payne scored a hat-trick of tries in Parma while Ruan Pienaar, Tommy Bowe (2) and Craig Gilroy also went over for the visitors.

Ireland international Bowe, making his first start of the season after his knee injury at the 2015 World Cup, will have enjoyed his comeback as the Irish province moved into the play-off places with a victory that was wrapped up by half time.

The Italian side, who remain eleventh and maintain the league's leakiest side, briefly looked like getting something from the contest when Guglielmo Palazzani went over to level the scores following Piennar's early try.

However, the visitors went into the break with a sixteen-point advantage which they extended further in a second half in which Zebre struggled to contain their dominant opposition.

Gilroy was also on the scoresheet for Ulster, and the full-back was at the centre of most of Les Kiss' team's attacking play.

Pienaar opened the scoring with a well-crafted try, Paddy Jackson making a superb run to set up the South African to dot down. Jackson's conversion was cancelled out by Palazzani's try and Carlo Canna's subsequent kick.

Soon after, Ulster took control, with Bowe looking impressive for a man who has spent the best part of a year on the sidelines. He stole the ball for charging forward and finishing off a fine solo try, for which Jackson added the extras.

Canna's penalty midway through the half could have derailed Ulster, but it spurred them on to victory, with Gilroy crossing the whitewash having collected a long ball from Pienaar, before Payne got his first of the afternoon. Jackson could only convert the former.

The second half went in much the same fashion as the first. Payne scored his second try minutes after the restart. First, Bowe passed to Stuart Olding, and he fed in Payne who did the rest. Pienaar kicked well to extend his side's lead further.

Payne completed his hat-trick after more good work from Olding, who this time set up Gilroy before the ball ended up with Payne who took his chance well. Pienaar made no mistake and converted excellently.

Ulrich Beyers pulled a late try back for the home side late on after a rapid counter attack, which Canna added the extras for, but it was a consolation which meant even less when Bowe went over for his second try of the day, which came after Darren Cave intercepted a loose ball. Olding became the third Ulster player to convert on the day, rounding off a superb victory.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Palazzani, Beyers
Cons: Canna 2
Pens: Canna

For Ulster:
Tries: Pienaar, Bowe 2, Gilroy, Payne 3
Cons: Jackson 3, Pienaar 2, Olding

Zebre: 15 Kayle Van Zyl, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Gideon Koegelenberg, 7 Federico Ruzza, 6 Jean Cook, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Tommaso Boni

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pete Browne, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best, 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Rory Scholes

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano (Italy), Andrea Spadoni (Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)