Ulster – 31
Tries: Ferris, D’Arcy, Trimble, Marshall, Jackson
Con: Humphreys 3
Aironi – 10
Ulster did what they had to do as they secured the much coveted bonus-point win against Aironi at Ravenhill to keep their Heineken Cup hopes alive.
Ulster were strong favourites heading into the game and after a shaky start they seized the initiative when Flanker Stephen Ferris crossed over for the first try on 16 minutes, and his third in two games.
Humphreys converting to put Ulster 7-0 up, the lead didn’t last long however as Aironi reduced the arrears to 4 points as Tito Tebaldi converted a penalty.
Ulster were looking for tries and three times they kicked for touched with the goal posts in sight, the Aironi defence holding firm under the pressure. Humphrey eventually decided enough was enough on 30 minutes when he elected to kick for goal however his effort was off target and Ulster were getting edgier by the minute.
The turning point came on 36 minutes when Giulio Toniolatti was sin binned and against the 14 men of Aironi Ulster made their advantage count, Adam D’arcy going over on the stroke of half time to put Ulster 12-3 up. Humphreys missed conversion ensuring the score stayed the way for the half time oranges.
A try early in the second half by Irish international winger Andrew Trimble gave Brian McLaughlin’s men the ideal start to the second half and the breathing space they needed, although once again Humphreys was off target with his effort, albeit from a tight angle.
With the win secure, McLaughlin made some changes to his side with debutant Stefan Terblanche, Paul Marshall and Tom Court all coming on and it was one of those, Marshall, who grabbed the bonus point when he crossed over the line after a quick tap penalty.
Another substitute Paddy Jackson added a fifth before Tommaso D’Apice got a consolation for Aironi with two minutes to go.
Ulster move top of the table for 48 hours at least with Leicester and Clermont set to go to battle on Sunday and the Celtic league side will need to ensure that they repeat tonight’s performance when they travel to Italy on the 17th December