RaboDirect PRO12: Leaders Ulster converted a late penalty try to beat Zebre
Last Updated: 18/11/12 6:29pm
Niall O'Connor proved the hero as his conversion beat Italian side Zebre 27-25 to extend Ulster's lead at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table.
A penalty try was awarded five minutes from time in Parma after the home scrum buckled under pressure from the visitors, and O'Connor added the crucial extras to earn the win.
The victory maintained Ulster's 100 per cent start to the 2012-13 campaign, while Zebre are still to even draw a match, though they had some consolation in picking up two losing bonus points.
Ulster forged ahead through an O'Connor penalty but Zebre scrum-half Tito Tebaldi touched down after 10 minutes to put the Italians in front.
Two more O'Connor penalties restored Ulster's advantage, but Daniel Halangahu's penalty reduced the deficit to one point at half-time.
Halangahu then crossed for a try to put Zebre 13-9 ahead, and although O'Connor kept Ulster in touch, the first of two tries for South African Dries van Schalkwyk extended the hosts' lead to 18-12.
Ulster reacted strongly and Paddy Wallace touched down on the right-hand side after good work from Jared Payne, and although O'Connor failed to convert he did strike another penalty to put the visitors two points ahead.
But Zebre did not buckle and Van Schalkwyk claimed his second try as he charged off the back of a retreating Zebre scrum, with Halangahu's extras giving them a 25-20 lead.
At that stage they looked good for their maiden victory, but the concession of the penalty try ultimately proved costly for the hosts.