Rugby: Dishevelled Capital side taste defeat again

Chris Cochrane brushes past Edinburgh's Lee Jones.

Chris Cochrane brushes past Edinburgh's Lee Jones.

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Edinburgh slumped to a sixth defeat in eight Rabo
Direct PRO12 league games as they were outgunned 45-20 by Ulster at Ravenhill.

Michael Bradley’s side had put it up to the league leaders for long periods of the game and only trailed by four points a minute after half time, 
but Ulster responded with 21 unanswered points.

Both sides were missing a lot of key personnel but it was Ulster that adapted better, scoring three tries in each half to consolidate their place at the top of the table.

Edinburgh were masters of their own downfall, at times gifting Ulster a few soft scores.

The visitors made a bright start, forcing a turnover at the lineout and then won a penalty at the first scrum.

From the penalty they kicked to touch and were able to move the ball through a number of phases before Gregor Hunter put an up and under into Ulster’s 22, but scrum half Paul Marshall was able to mark it.

Edinburgh continued to dominate the opening stages and nearly scored when James King burst through, but Craig Gilroy made a try-saving tackle.

They did, finally, make their pressure pay with a try on 11 minutes from winger Tom Brown. Paul Marshall dropped the ball from a scrum in his own 22 and from turnover ball, Edinburgh moved the ball wide. John Houston fed King and he supplied the try-scoring pass for Brown, with Hunter converting.

Ulster got back in the game three minutes later when the visitors strayed offside in midfield and Niall O’Connor, on as a blood replacement, landed the resulting penalty.

Hunter restored Edinburgh’s seven-point lead on 19 minutes with a penalty after Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris was punished for hands in the ruck.

Ulster got back in the game on 28 minutes with a penalty try. It came from their best move of the match as Ruan 
Pienaar found Jared Payne. The centre put in a prefect grubber kick, which Lee Jones carried over his own try line.

From the scrum, Ulster got a huge drive on and with Edinburgh going backwards, they collapsed it over their own line and referee Nigel Owens had no hesitation in awarding the try, which Pienaar converted.

Ulster then motored on, with Payne scoring from the restart, a try that Pienaar converted again.

Pienaar went over for 
Ulster’s third converted try on 34 minutes after Hunter’s clearance from his own 22 was charged down, but Edinburgh cut Ulster’s half time to 24-17 with Brown’s second try, which came from a fluent passing move after Edinburgh won a lineout.

Edinburgh further reduced the gap in the opening minute of the second half when Hunter landed a penalty from a tight angle with the help off the 
upright.

Ulster, though, sealed their bonus point with a fourth try on 56 minutes from No 8 Roger Wilson. The score owed to a quick penalty taken by Marshall which caught the Edinburgh defence napping, and although the scrum half was hauled down close to the line, Ulster recycled the ball and Wilson scored, with Pienaar adding the difficult conversion.

Payne then got his second try of the night on 68 minutes. From a five metre, Nick Williams picked up and drove. The powerhouse Kiwi was held up short, but ball was quickly moved left and O’Connor put Payne over from close range, with Pienaar converting.

Ulster put the icing on the cake with a sixth try with the last play of the game. Man-of-the-match Gilroy put in a hopeful kick, but Greig Tonks was unable to deal with it, allowing the winger to score. Pienaar, as was becoming the norm, converted.

Scores

Ulster: Tries: Penalty try, J Payne, 
R Pienaar, R Wilson, C Gilroy. Cons: 
Pienaar (5). Pen: O’Connor

Edinburgh: Tries: T Brown (2). Cons: Hunter (2). Pens: Hunter (2)

Ulster: R Andrew (P Nelson 69); C Cochrane, J Payne, P Wallace (S Olding 63), C Gilroy; R Pienaar, P Marshall (N O’Connor 63); C Black (R Lutton 73), N Brady (N Annett, 69), J Afoa (A Macklin 69), L Stevenson (R Diack 38), N McComb, S Ferris (N Williams 45), M McComish, R Wilson;

Edinburgh: G Tonks; L Jones, J Houston (S Visser 73), J King (D Fife 43), T Brown; G Hunter, C Leck; J Yapp (A Jacobsen 41), A Titterrell, W Nel, ,R McAlpine, G Gilchrist (I van der Westhuizen 58), S Cox, R Grant, S McInally (H Watson 65)

Referee: N Owens (Wales)

Attendance: 11,078