Belfast Telegraph

RaboDirect PRO12: Edinburgh 20 Ulster 42

Ulster produced a workmanlike performance studded with occasional flashes of brilliance to take all five RaboDirect PRO12 points against a below-par Edinburgh at windswept Murrayfield.

Both sides had an eye on their forthcoming Heineken Cup matches but it is the visitors who will go into that assignment with greater confidence after a solid effort that saw tries for Rory Best, Dan Tuohy, Andrew Trimble and Darren Cave, while Ian Humphreys and Ruan Pienaar contributed the remaining points from kicks.

Edinburgh's points came courtesy of touchdowns by Nick De Luca and Alun Walker, plus 10 points from the boot of skipper Greig Laidlaw.

The Irish outfit opened the scoring in three minutes when the hosts strayed offside in their 22 and left Humphreys a simple penalty kick. The same player repeated the dose to double his side's tally after a similar award nine minutes later.

Despite the scoreline the opening exchanges had been evenly matched and it was the hosts who looked the more dangerous on the attack.

Tim Visser almost broke through when he latched on to a sweetly-judged cross-kick from Phil Godman, but the winger was bundled into touch 10 metres short of the line

The opening try of the night arrived shortly afterwards. De Luca pounced after a series of fumbles in the Ulster defence and gathered the loose ball before plunging over for the score. Laidlaw added the extra two points then extended his side's advantage with a well-struck penalty.

That advantage dwindled when Ruan Pienaar assumed the kicking duties from the injured Humphreys and stroked over a penalty.

Better was to come for Ulster, who capped a spell of pressure with a slick handling move that saw the ball moved left then recycled and switched right where Tuohy fed Best and the hooker scuttled over for the try.

The link man for the first score was replacement Paul Marshall and he again provided the quickfire service that saw the ball shipped out to Tuohy and he powered over at the corner to extend the Ulster lead with 29 minutes on the clock.

Edinburgh bounced back from that double blow to finish the first period in the ascendancy and Laidlaw reduced the deficit when he landed a penalty with the final kick of the half.

Pienaar had been off-target with both conversion attempts but he rediscovered his range to bang over a penalty shortly after the restart, and he was on the mark with the conversion of his side's third try.

That score was the product of a searing break by Marshall who broke from halfway and darted between two defenders before slipping the ball to Trimble who evaded Visser to touch down.

There appeared little likelihood of Edinburgh overturning the 19-point deficit but the home side set about that improbable task with vigour and they hauled themselves back into the contest in the 59th minute when Walker gathered after a close-range lineout and thundered over. Laidlaw's conversion narrowed the gap to 12 points.

But any notions of a fightback were extinguished six minutes from full-time when Marshall again broke from deep and exchanged passes with Trimble before freeing Cave for the bonus-point try. Pienaar again added the conversion then added a coat of gloss to the scoreline with a late penalty.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph