Ulster centurion Craig Gilroy scored two tries as his side crushed Treviso 43-3 in their Guinness PRO12 clash at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.
Michael Allen, Stuart McCloskey and Andrew Warwick also got over the whitewash, the scoring further punctuated by a second-half penalty try.
Ruan Pienaar, meanwhile, was his usual prodigious self with the boot. The Ravenhill men led throughout this turgid game, and although they took a long time to break down their dogged opponents, were always well on top.
Ulster's form has been rather erratic of late, and this valuable win will do their fragile confidence no harm. Treviso, who responded with a solitary Joe Carlisle penalty, were honest and durable, but were pretty limited, and the Italian side posed very little creative threat as Ulster romped home.
The game began anxiously, with Treviso dominating territory in the opening few minutes. The score remained deadlocked early on as both sides played a tentative game of cat and mouse, with the Italians ascendant in terms of territory. If there was a consolation for the hosts in this scrappy period it was the performance of their tight five who seemed to have the edge over its Treviso counterparts.
Thus on 18 minutes Ulster were awarded a penalty straight in front of the posts from a Treviso infringement in the scrum, and the South African scrum-half made no mistake to make it 3-0 to the Belfast men.
But the set-piece was one of the few redeeming features for the hosts, who lacked fluidity and cohesion for much of the first period. Despite this, it was Ulster who made the breakthrough in the 26th minute. Darren Cave made an elusive run in midfield to set his side up in the Treviso 22. From there, Pienaar quickly recycled the ball through several pairs of hands before finding Allen who touched down in the left corner. Pienaar converted to make it 10-0.
As the game approached half-time, Ulster were beginning to find a bit of momentum, but their impetus was impeded by poor decision making and unforced errors. Treviso, for their part, were limited to the speculative kicking of Carlisle, and the Italian franchise struggled to string many phases together.
Right on the brink of the interval, Pienaar had a super chance to extend Ulster's advantage, but his penalty rebounded off the woodwork. At the end of a dire half, then, Ulster were ahead without setting any pulses racing.
The second-half began in a similar vein, with spilled passes the order of the day. With Ulster well on top, they repeatedly spurned three pointers to pursue the vital bonus point.
Lock Lewis Stevenson seemed to have got over for the hosts on 51 minutes, but the TMO ruled it out for offside. Thereafter the pursuit of the bonus point became quite frantic, but in fairness the Treviso defence was incredibly dogged.
But the Italians became over-zealous in their enthusiasm, and replacement Tomas Vallejos was dispatched to the bin for slowing down quick Ulster ball. The extra man proved decisive, and on 60 minutes Ian Davies awarded a penalty try following several collapsed scrums. Pienaar converted to make it 17-0.
To their credit, the visitors continued to toil away and on 67 minutes Carlisle clawed three points back for the men in green. But Ulster hit back immediately, with McCloskey scoring in the right hand corner, and Piennaar converted again from the tightest of angles.
The bonus point was now very much on, and on 72 minutes centurion Gilroy duly delivered it. Piennar missed the conversion this time, but it mattered little.
The hosts weren’t finished as a tired Treviso capitulated, with prop Warwick getting over for a deserved try at the death. Pienaar made no mistake with the extras this time.
The game had barely restarted when Gilroy raced the length of the pitch to complete his brace and seal the rout.
Tries: Allen, Penalty, McCloskey, Gilroy 2, Warwick
Con: Pienaar 5
Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Mike McComish, 6 Roger Wilson (c), 5 Franco Van der Merwe, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Wiahahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Stuart McCloskey, 23 Peter Nelson.
Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Enrico Bacchin, 12 Sam Christie, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Alberto Lucchese, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dean Budd, 6 Meyer Swanepoel, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Josè Novak, 18 Salesi Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Nicola Cattina, 21 Andrea Pratichetti, 22 James Ambrosini, 23 Henry Seniloli.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
TMO: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
By Rory McGimpsey