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Ulster battle to maintain streak

Ulster kept their Magners League play-off hopes alive with their third win in a row but they were made to fight hard by a spirited Aironi effort as they triumphed 23-10.

Tries from Tom Court and Craig Gilroy inside seven minutes helped them to a 15-10 half-time lead before a score from replacement Declan Fitzpatrick plus two Ruan Pienaar penalties during a second half which skipper Johann Mueller was yellow carded.

Pienaar's last conversion hit the upright but he made sure with his second attempt which came four minutes later after Ulster had moved the ball at pace for Chris Henry to send Gilroy over for a seventh try in seven appearances.

Connacht had to dig deep to record a narrow 31-25 win over opponents Treviso, who finished strongly to claim a late bonus point.

With their stand-in captain Johnny O'Connor in the sin-bin, Connacht leaked a penalty try which Willem de Waal converted to get the Italians within a converted score of victory.

Troy Nathan and the excellent Frank Murphy scored tries to move Connacht 18-0 ahead, before Michele Sepe and Manoa Vosawai responded for Treviso.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked Edinburgh to their fifth straight Magners league defeat, with three penalties and a conversion of Chris Czekaj's try seeing Cardiff win 16-11.

A late fightback from Edinburgh proved valiant enough to secure a bonus point, but Tim Visser's last-gasp try and two David Blair penalties were unable to halt their losing streak. Centre Dafydd Hewitt and back row Martyn Williams combined to carve open the home defence. The ball was recycled and moved left, only for Halfpenny to knock on with the line at his mercy.

The Scarlets lost out to one of their play-off rivals as Leinster took the spoils with a 26-15 victory at the RDS.

Jonathan Sexton returned to provincial duty to kick four penalties and convert tries in each half from Niall Morris and Isaac Boss. Rhys Thomas touched down for the Scarlets, who had the final say with a late consolation try from Nic Reynolds.

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