Ulster Rugby v Edinburgh
Edinburgh went to the Kingspan Stadium with a side little changed from their previous Guinness Pro12 game. Even accounting for the last minute replacement of Jamie Richie for John Hardie, who was a late call up to the Scotland 6 Nations squad, back-row Viliame Mata was the only change since playing the Championship leaders.
If the try in the first minute by Magnus Bradbury was anything to go by, it looked like Edinburgh were going to confirm a second win against the Ulstermen this season. However, this bruising game from two committed sides ended in a victory and bonus point for Ulster with the final score being 24-18.
All of Ulster’s points were taken in the first half and the visitors went into the interval 14 points down. The chance of turning round this deficit were made more challenging when both Fraser McKenzie (62’) and Michela Allen (70’) were stretchered off. However, a nail-biting fish was on the cards when a try and penalty within eight minutes closed the gap to just six points.
Following Bradbury’s opening try the home fans had to wait less than 10 minutes for their team to draw even through a try under the posts by Paul Marshall, which was successfully converted by Peter Nelson giving Ulster a three point advantage.
Two more tries quickly followed, Darren Cave (’18) and Louis Ludik (’26) who took advantage of Piutau’s exciting break to dive over in the corner. A small conciliation to Edinburgh was that Peter Nelson missed both conversions wide to the right of the on each opportunity.
The fourth try and bonus point for Ulster was delivered by Jacob Stockdale and this time there was no doubt about Nelsons conversion for the extra points.
It was Edinburgh who were to have the final say in the first half when, after a powerful driving maul by the forwards, Captain Stuart McInally put the ball over the line.
Half Time: Ulster Rugby 24-10 Edinburgh Rugby
It wasn’t until almost the end of the third quarter that Edinburgh took the initiative again. Following a line out taken by Toolis, continued pressure on the home side, plus some classy play from Chris Dean, Damien Hoyland touched down in the corner to take the score to 24-15 making the home fans and seemingly the home team somewhat nervous.
The final points of the game came from the boot of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne who after came on replacing Sean Kennedy and took a long range penalty with just over 15 minutes to go and securing a losing bonus point.
Although Edinburgh came back strongly in second half, including a nail biting moment two minutes from the end of the game when Tom Brown gained 70 metres after seizing a bouncing ball, Ulster managed to close our efforts down when it mattered.
It was a hard-fought contest at the Kingspan Stadium with both teams showing their physicality. The loss means Edinburgh stay at ninth place in the Guinness PRO12 after 14 rounds, ahead of playing host to Cardiff Blues on 24 February who were sitting one place back from Ulster at the start of this evenings play.
Full Time: Ulster Rugby 24-18 Edinburgh Rugby