Depleted Ulster show grit and leapfrog Edinburgh

Ulster 14 Edinburgh 7: A decimated Ulster held on to take the Pro12 points against Edinburgh in gale-force conditions at the Kingspan Stadium last night and leapfrog over their Scottish visitors.

Ulster lost four key players to injury, three in the first- half, and true grit allowed them to hold on to their 14-point advantage in game that lasted over two hours. A penalty try and a scorcher from Rory Scholes was enough to see off Alan Solomons’s hard-nosed side.

Ulster, playing with a howling wind at their tails, immediately found Edinburgh were going to present a very physical challenge. Even before any of the teams really got a sweat, Ulster lost two big assets within six minutes when Iain Henderson was carted off after appearing to damage his hamstring and Darren Cave also departed after taking a heavy tackle.

However, it didn’t stop Ulster taking the lead with a penalty try just as Henderson was being wheeled away. Chris Henry drove off a line-out and at a ruck, Ruan Pienaar was prevented from an easy close-in score by flanker Mike Coman who tackled him from an offside position. Jackson converted.

Four minutes later, Ulster had doubled their lead. A great set-piece saw replacement Louis Ludik give Scholes an inside pass and the left winger side-stepped Dougie Fife to score with Jackson adding the extras.

There were no more scores in a first-half that lasted 60 minutes due to the number of injuries, but twice Ulster failed to close the deal after breaking through Edinburgh’s Scrooge-like defence.

As expected, and with the elements in their favour, Edinburgh came out in the second-half with all guns blazing. It wasn’t long before they got the scoreboard moving again when fly-half Phil Burleigh slipped a neat kick through to leave number eight Cornell Du Preez with the easy task of touching down. Cuthbert converted.

But it was Ulster who took the game to Edinburgh, with first Stuart McCloskey just driving short, and flanker Clive Ross held up over the line. With both starting locks off, Ulster had to completely rearrange their pack and came away without troubling the defence further.

However, Ulster came back with eight minutes remaining with Luke Marshall taking a superb ball from Pienaar to score. However, the try was ruled out after Chris Henry was adjudged to have blocked an Edinburgh player from covering Marshall’s break

But it mattered little as Ulster dug deep to keep the momentum going.

Ulster scorers:

Tries: Penalty, Scholes. Cons: Jackson 2.

ULSTER:

Nelson, Trimble, Cave, L. Marshall, Scholes, Jackson, Pienaar, McCall, Herring, Lutton, Tuohy, van der Merwe, Henderson, Henry, Williams.

Replacements:

Warwick for McCall (62), Herbst for Lutton (42), Andrew for Tuohy (60), O’Connor for van der Merwe (58).

Edinburgh scorers:

Tries: Du Preez. Cons: Cuthbert.

EDINBURGH:

Cuthbert, Fife, Dean, Scott, Helu, Burleigh, Kennedy, Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Bresler, A. Toolis, Coman, J. Hardie, Du Preez.

Replacements:

Kinghorn for Cuthbert (54), Allen for Dean (66), Fowles for Kennedy (55), Cochrane for Ford (47), Andress for Nel (47), Watson for Coman (41).

Referee:

Ian Davies (Wales).

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