EDINBURGH’S hopes of a third successive win in the RaboDirect PRO12 came unstuck in Belfast last night when they were blown away 47-17 by Ulster.
It was a dispiriting return to Ravenhill for Alan Solomons as his side continue their search for a first away win since last December.
Solomons may have been given a warm welcome by the Ravenhill crowd, but on the field there were no favours as Ulster cranked up another bonus point win on a night when both sides were understrength.
Both teams were guilty of basic errors in the opening quarter, but Edinburgh were rewarded for getting their act together when Cornell du Preez got over for a try in the right corner after 16 minutes.
Scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne made the initial break off a scrum before du Preez bulldozed his way through Ulster winger Michael Allen and then managed to escape the tackle of Craig Gilroy to score for the second successive league game.
Harry Leonard failed to add the points.
That was as good as it got in the opening half for the Scots and once Ulster cut out the mistakes, they pulled away.
James McKinney got Ulster off the mark at the end of the opening quarter with a penalty and it was no surprise when the pressure saw the Edinburgh rearguard breached. Gilroy went over in the left corner despite the efforts of Dougie Fife and McKinney added the extras for Ulster to lead 10-5.
The home side turned the screw before the break as Paul Marshall showed neat footwork to control the ball with his right foot in full flight before scoring.
Edinburgh struggled to get out of their own half and Ulster extended their lead to 20-5 at the interval when McKinney added a penalty.
Edinburgh needed an early score after the restart and despite pressure, they could not find a way through.
Edinburgh’s hopes then disintegrated when South African lock Izak van der Westhuizen was binned when the Scots conceded their fifth penalty of the half. Ulster went to the corner with the penalty and scored off it with Robbie Diack touching down.
Ulster wrapped up the bonus point three minutes later when Gilroy intercepted a Harry Leonard pass to race in and score under the posts, with McKinney converting for 34-5.
It was a damage limitation after that for Edinburgh, but it took Ulster just another three minutes to cross the whitewash again.
Luke Marshall charged down a clearance from debutant Grayson Hart to turnover possession, which ended with Mike McComish putting McKinney over in the left corner.
The out half landed the awkward conversion to make it 41-5 and bring his haul to 21 points with seven kicks from as many attempts.
But Edinburgh battled to the end and were duly rewarded with Fife getting in for a good try in the right corner seven minutes from the end.
And they set up the prospect of a bonus point when Hart crowned his debut with a try when he held off the tackle of Peter Nelson to slide over two minutes later, with Leonard adding the conversion, but it was another grim away day experience for Edinburgh.
Solomons said he was not too despondent with the result but felt they did little to help their own cause.
“We knew it was going to be a massive challenge to come away with the result,” he said. “Ulster deserved the win but if you look at the game in context when the yellow was given three tries resulted, which was 21 points.
“And two of those tries, one was a charge and one was an intercept so I think we made a little bit of rod for our own back without taking anything away from the Ulster win.”
Ulster: Tries: Gilroy (2), P Marshall, Diack, McKinney. Cons: McKinney (5). Pens: McKinney (2)
Edinburgh: Tries: Du Preez, Fife, Hart. Cons: Leonard
Ulster: C Gilroy; A Trimble, D Cave (P Marshall 75 blood), L Marshall (P Nelson 65), M Allen (R Andrew 22); J McKinney, P Marshall (D Shanahan 69); C Black(T Court 59), R Herring (N Annett 62), J Afoa (R Lutton 66); L Stevenson (M McComish 49), I Henderson (D Tuohy 17); R Diack (capt), S Doyle, R Wilson.
Edinburgh: G Tonks; D Fife, J Dominguez (S Beard 62), B Atiga, J Cuthbert (T Brown blood 24-32 and 66); H Leonard, S Hidalgo-Clyne (G Hart 62); W Blaauw, A Lutui (J Hilterbrand 65), WP Nel (G Cross 72); O Atkins, I van der Westhuizen (B Toolis 69); T Leonardi (R Rennie h-t), R Grant, C Du Preez.