Belfast Telegraph

Ulster struck down by travel sickness against Edinburgh

Edinburgh 16-10 Ulster

By Michael Sadlier

Ulster's away-day issues resurfaced again last night at Murrayfield, where they fell to their second defeat of the season in another scrappy and inconsistent effort when not performing at their Kingspan Stadium fortress.

Neil Doak's men had to be content with a losing bonus point which kept them in fifth overnight, though there will be much soul-searching after this dismal performance.

Even though the game was in the balance right up until the final whistle, Ulster rarely seemed to have the composure necessary to close it out and deny Alan Solomons' side their fourth win from four.

After a dire first-half, a try early in the second period from Sean Reidy gave Ulster hope and the lead with Peter Nelson's superb conversion putting them 10-6 up but the concession of a soft score to man of the match Hamish Watson and the accurate boot of Greig Tonks helped the Scots side to another win.

There was little of note to take from this effort from Ulster, with only occasional moments of individualism being memorable in what was, collectively, a pretty dire effort.

Edinburgh opened the scoring after five minutes when Tonks bisected the posts after Nick Williams was pinged off his feet.

From the restart, though, Phil Burleigh kicked the ball straight out after it had been passed back into the '22' but Ulster failed to take advantage as Sam Arnold threw a forward pass to Andrew Trimble.

Ulster then knocked on again from a similar attempt to bring Trimble in on an inside pass and shortly afterwards Louis Ludik was caught by Tom Brown and another penalty was conceded. This time the Scots opted for the corner, though they lost the lineout with an overthrow.

With Edinburgh playing all the rugby and having all the territory, it was little surprise that they scored again with another Tonks penalty coming in the 17th minute after Dan Tuohy was penalised for side entry at a maul.

Ulster then got a let off from referee Dudley Phillips after Neil Cochrane was pinged for being in front of Watson, who burst through only to be called back.

From the resulting scrum Paul Marshall, on his 150th Ulster appearance, made a searing break down the blindside which led to a penalty and the visitors went for the corner.

From the lineout, Nelson kicked to the corner and though Trimble couldn't hold it, Ludik got the rebound and was held up. But the play was brought back for a penalty and Nelson - not Stuart McCloskey this time - nailed his kick to get Ulster under way.

Ulster then had their best phase of possession with Craig Gilroy kicking ahead and from a poor Nathan Fowles clearance, the visitors launched a series of attacks, with Trimble prominent, which saw them turned over just short of the try line.

With Tuohy off for a head injury assessment, and Lewis Stevenson on, Ulster launched another promising attack only for Wiehahn Herbst to get smashed in a close-in tackle and a hardly memorable first-half ended with Edinburgh leading 6-3.

Ulster had to hit back and they did so after Trimble sparked a counter from a chip over the top three minutes into the second-half. From a subsequent penalty, Marshall tapped and went and after a strong clear out from Williams, and surge from McCloskey, Reidy barged over out on the right.

Nelson landed a superb conversion and Ulster now led 10-6. But the visitors couldn't press home their advantage and six minutes before the hour mark, after Trimble had missed touch, the Scots launched a series of attacks.

Edinburgh threw the ball out left and after Gilroy committed and was beaten, No.8 Nasi Manu hared down the wing and passed inside to Watson, who crossed the line.

Tonks landed a great conversion and now it was Edinburgh who were in front at 13-10.

Ulster then turned down a possible kickable penalty to go for the corner but were done for accidental offside at their rolling maul

Then on 64 minutes the Ulster scrum - with Andrew Warwick and Bronson Ross now on as props - was penalised for collapsing and Tonks did the needful to stretch the home side's lead to 16-10.

Some confusion then ensued when Edinburgh tried to bring on replacement hooker George Turner to cover loose-head prop but referee Phillips refused to allow it, meaning that the Scots were down to 14 men and uncontested scrums.

Even so, they managed to win a penalty in the 70th minute, when finally Phillips allowed Turner on, but Tonks missed the shot at goal.

Ulster then had a last-gasp chance after Turner - not for the first time - was done at the scrum, but Edinburgh defended the driving maul and won the turnover for victory.

EDINBURGH: G Tonks, T Brown, C Dean, A Strauss, D Hoyland; P Burleigh, N Fowles; A Dell, N Cochrane, J Andress, A Bresler, F McKenzie, M Coman (capt), H Watson, N Manu

Replacements: G Turner, D Shiells, S Berghan, A Toolis, C Du Preez, S Kennedy, W Helu, J Cuthbert

Ulster: L Ludik; C Gilroy, S Arnold, S McCloskey, A Trimble; P Nelson, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring (capt), W Herbst, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, R Wilson, S Reidy, N Williams

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, B Ross, L Stevenson, W Faloon, D Shanahan, I Humphreys, R Scholes

Referee: Dudley Phillips

Match rating: 5/10

Man of the match: Edinburgh's Hamish Watson was a huge presence throughout the contest

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