Edinburgh put to the sword by seven-try Ulster in 43-14 pummelling

Edinburgh fought back from a dismal start to give Ulster a run for their money at BT Murrayfield last night, but in the end they were overpowered as the Irish team extended their Pro14 winning run to eight games with a 43-14 victory.

By Stuart Bathgate
Monday, 30th November 2020, 10:40 pm
Updated Monday, 30th November 2020, 10:45 pm
Jack Blain scores Edinburgh's first try but Ulster proved too strong at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS
Jack Blain scores Edinburgh's first try but Ulster proved too strong at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

Ulster got some good continuity going in their passing play right from the start, and it was no surprise when they opened the scoring after just three minutes. Hooker John Andrew and scrum-half John Cooney combined before the latter put Stewart Moore through for the try, and Cooney converted.

It was only a matter of time before Ulster got the second try, and it came midway through the half. A penalty to touch was followed by a solid lineout throw, and Andrew got on the end of the drive to barge his way over the line. Cooney slipped as he made contact with his conversion attempt, but the failure to add the two points seemed no more than academic even at that stage of the game.

The third try came just two minutes later. Another maul powered its way through an ineffectual defence, and when it was halted a metre or two short of the line, Cooney reacted quickly to dart through a gap. The scrum-half was on target with his conversion, taking his team’s tally to 19 points, but to their credit, Edinburgh upped the tempo after that setback, and eventually made the pressure count.

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The forwards came close to the line first, with Lee Roy Atalifo diving over the line only to be held up. The prop somehow succeeded in recycling, and when the ball went out to the backs James Johnstone put Jack Blain in for his first senior try.

Nathan Chamberlain converted and Edinburgh went in at half-time happy to have edged their way back into the contest, even if a 19-7 deficit was still an intimidatingly large one to make up.

They became happier still five minutes into the second half when Blain flopped over for his second try after good work by Eroni Sau, and when Chamberlain converted an apparently lost cause had become a single-score game. Bill Mata came off the bench for his first appearance following injury, and the arrival of the Fijian gave further impetus to the fightback.

With 25 minutes to play Jamie Farndale thought he had brought his team level with a try after reacting most quickly when a Chamberlain penalty bounced back off an upright, but a TMO replay showed he had been ahead of the kicker so the score was chalked off. Ulster responded well to the reprieve, stretching their lead through a lineout drive finished off by Jordi Murphy. Mata was yellow-carded for a team offence, Cooney converted to take the lead back up to a dozen points, and the match was as good as over.

Cooney and Andrew got their second tries late on to extend their team’s lead, then Andrew completed his hat-trick with the last play of the match.

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Blain 2. Cons: Chamberlain 2.

Ulster: Tries: Moore, Andrew 3, Cooney 2, Murphy. Cons: Cooney 4.

Edinburgh: J Blain; E Sau, J Johnstone (A Coombes 70), C Dean, J Farndale; N Chamberlain, H Pyrgos (captain) (C Shiel 68); P Schoeman (S Grahamslaw 78), D Cherry (M Willemse 66), L Atalifo (D Gamble 70), A Ferreira (J Hodgson 54), A Davidson, M Bradbury, L Crosbie (C Boyle 71), A Miller (V Mata 50).

Ulster: M Lowry; M Faddes, J Hume, S Moore, R Lyttle (A Sexton 8); I Madigan (W Johnston 69), J Cooney (D Shanahan 69); A Warwick (K McCall 49), J Andrew (B Roberts 75), M Moore (G Milasinovich 51), A O’Connor (D O’Connor 64), S Carter (captain), S Reidy (D McCann 69), J Murphy, M Coetzee.

Referee: C Evans (Wales).