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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Benetton Treviso v Ulster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Benetton Treviso v Ulster

The second leg of Ulster’s two-match spell in Italy sees them travelling to the Stadio di Monigo to take on ninth-placed Benetton Treviso. The province’s starting line-up has been reinforced as they look to extend their winning run to 11 games.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, November 23

BENETTON TREVISO (9th) v ULSTER (1st), Stadio di Monigo, 7.05pm local time/6.05pm Irish time (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland red button/Sport Italia)

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Team News: Ireland squad members Andrew Trimble and Paul Marshall have been included in the Ulster starting line-up to play Benetton Treviso at the Stadio di Monigo.

Number 8 Roger Wilson will captain the province for the RaboDirect PRO12 encounter, with the 20-year-old Peter Nelson earning just his second start at full-back.

In total there are six personnel changes and one positional switch compared to the Ulster side that started against Zebre last Sunday.

Up front sees an all new front row of Tom Court, Rob Herring and Declan Fitzpatrick deployed in place of Callum Black, Nigel Brady and John Afoa respectively.

The second row pairing of Robbie Diack and Neil McComb will continue after impressing in the 27-25 win over Zebre.

The back row is also unchanged with Nick Williams and Mike McComish named on either side of the scrum and Wilson at the base.

Marshall’s inclusion alongside Niall O’Connor at half-back means Michael Heaney must be content with a place on the bench.

Outside of them, Paddy Wallace and Jared Payne, playing in midfield for the third consecutive match, will be tasked with providing much of the creativity.

With returning Ireland international Trimble named on the right wing, Michael Allen has switched to the left touchline at the expense of Chris Cochrane.

That leaves Academy player Nelson, who has made three previous Ulster senior appearances, lining out at full-back in place of Ricky Andrew.

Last weekend’s starting front row are all on the bench this time out, with James Simpson and Ali Birch also providing forward cover. Heaney, Cochrane and Ireland Under-20 inside back Stuart Olding are the other replacements included.

Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso boss Franco Smith have welcomed back Luca Morisi and Andrea Pratichetti from international duty. The pair have been named on the bench for the visit of table toppers Ulster.

Former Treviso back Andrew Vilk, who is now a permit player, will link up again with Tongan-born Japanese international Christian Loamanu in the centre.

There is a settled look to the rest of the Treviso back-line with Brendan Williams joined by Giulio Toniolatti and Ludovico Nitoglia in the back-three, while top scorer Alberto di Bernardo and Fabio Semenzato combine at half-back.

The Italians’ selected front five is unchanged from the recent 18-3 defeat to Connacht in Galway, with Marco Fuser partnering captain Corniel van Zyl in the second row.

Paul Derbyshire has been added to the back row, taking over from Manoa Vosawai with Valerio Bernabo moving from openside to blindside flanker.

BENETTON TREVISO: Brendan Williams; Giulio Toniolatti, Christian Loamanu, Andrew Vilk, Ludovico Nitoglia; Alberto di Bernardo, Fabio Semenzato; Matteo Muccignat, Franco Sbaraglini, Jacobus Roux, Marco Fuser, Corniel van Zyl (capt), Valerio Bernabo, Paul Derbyshire, Marco Filippucci.

Replacements: Enrico Ceccato, Giovanni Maistri, Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, Filippo Giusti, Andrea Pratichetti, Angelo Esposito, James Ambrosini, Luca Morisi.

ULSTER: Peter Nelson; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Paddy Wallace, Michael Allen; Niall O’Connor, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Rob Herring, Declan Fitzpatrick, Robbie Diack, Neil McComb, Nick Williams, Mike McComish, Roger Wilson (capt).

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Callum Black, John Afoa, James Simpson, Ali Birch, Michael Heaney, Stuart Olding, Chris Cochrane.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Andrea Spadoni, Stefano Traversi (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Stefano Marama (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Benetton Treviso to win: 7/4; Draw: 20/1; Ulster to win: 4/9

Pre-Match Quotes: Niall O’Connor (Ulster) – “Mark (Anscombe) has spent the last couple of weeks getting the point across of boys taking their opportunity. Individually, you want to step up and impress and give the coaches selection headaches for when the full squad gets back together.

“We have been trying to make the most of these games and trying to take the opportunity. There is no reason if you are playing well and doing a job that those guys (from the international squad) will come straight back into the side.

“It was good to get a win against Zebre, it was a little bit tighter than we hoped for. It wasn’t the performance we were looking for but we got the win and I’m always happy to play my part and kick a few goals which helped.

“I think Treviso will be similar to Zebre, they have a big pack but they will have a few internationals gone so it could be a similar side to what played Connacht a couple of weeks ago.

“They are a good side they have a good home record, the games they lost were Leinster and the Scarlets.

“We are under no illusions – it will be a step up from last Sunday, we need to be on our game and better than last week if we want to win.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Benetton Treviso – Points: Alberto di Bernardo 31; Tries: Robert Barbieri 6; Ulster – Points: Paddy Jackson 46; Tries: Jared Payne 5


Friday, November 26, 2010 – Benetton Treviso 9 Ulster 19, Stadio di Monigo
Friday, January 7, 2011 – Ulster 32 Benetton Treviso 13, Ravenhill
Friday, October 7, 2011 – Ulster 12 Benetton Treviso 23, Ravenhill
Saturday, March 24, 2012 – Benetton Treviso 23 Ulster 27, Stadio di Monigo


– Benetton Treviso have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions since their 27-22 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on October 5 –

Benetton Treviso have lost their last seven encounters with Irish provinces

– Ulster very nearly lost their 100% record this season when they narrowly overcame Zebre 27-25 in a rearranged RaboDirect PRO12 encounter at Parma last Sunday

– The Ulstermen have won their last five away games and have never lost in nine previous visits to Italy in all competitions

– The two sides have met on eight previous occasions with Ulster’s only defeat being a 23-12 reversal at Ravenhill in October 2011