RaboDirect PRO12: Jared Payne scores the only try of the contest as Ulster see off Zebre
Last Updated: 20/12/13 10:59pm
Ulster overcame tricky conditions and Zebre to record a 13-6 victory at Ravenhill, stretching their unbeaten run in all competitions to five matches.
Fresh off back-to-back triumphs over another Italian side, Benetton Treviso, in the Heineken Cup, the hosts battled back from 6-0 down to make it seven wins in 10 RaboDirect PRO12 outings this season.
Jared Payne grabbed the only try of the contest, with Ruan Pienaar adding the conversion to make it 7-6 at the break. He added two further penalties in the second half, settling a fixture played out in swirling wind and rain.
Zebre thoroughly deserved their losing bonus point, the visitors adjusting quickly to the elements as Luciano Orquera landed a fourth-minute penalty to break the deadlock, although he could not land his second attempt from further out five minutes later.
With Orquera off the field due to an injury after he was hauled down near the Ulster line, Tommaso Iannone took over kicking duties and duly and sent over a 15th-minute penalty after their opponents had been penalised at a scrum.
Ulster finally made their presence felt just before the half-hour mark when Payne hit the line off a James McKinney flat pass and beat four defenders with a mazy run to score under the posts.
Pienaar knocked over the straightforward kick that followed to put his team in front for the first time - it was a lead they would not surrender for the remainder of the match.
They upped the pressure after the restart and Piennar kicked a 48th-minute penalty to open up a four-point advantage.
However they still struggled to shake off their opponents, having to wait until eight minutes from time to score again when Pienaar landed his second penalty.