Edinburgh bounce back with a fine win over Ulster
After a fair amount of soul-searching leading up to Friday night’s match, Edinburgh youngsters stepped up to the plate and, at least in the first half, laid Ulster’s defence to waste on their way to a 28-17 win at BT Murrayfield.
With a number of players away on International duty, it was expected that Ulster’s more experienced ‘remainers’ would have the edge over Edinburgh’s side as the teams lined up for kick off.
However, it took around two minutes for them to score the opener. An early turnover put the home side in command and a swift advance had the match ten metres out from the Ulster line. Quick recycled ball then had the defence scrambling and the ball ended up in the hands of No. 6, Viliame Mata, who crashed through a couple of ineffectual tackles to score the first points. Jason Tovey brought his ‘good’ boots for this match and easily kicked the conversion to take Edinburgh into a 7-0 lead.
Just over five minutes from the restart, the hosts crossed the whitewash again. Edinburgh had forced Ulster back to their five-metre line, then a clearing kick from centre, Luke Marshall, failed to find touch and Tom Brown started the process over again. Tovey and lock, Fraser McKenzie then combined to pressurise the opposition and, once again, quick recycle had No. 15, Blair Kinghorn galloping down the right wing. He was stopped, but Damien Hoyland was there to pick up from the ruck and dive over in the corner for the second home try. Tovey’s kick just missed, but it was 12-0 for Edinburgh with just over ten minutes played.
The game was fairly evenly matched for the next five, or so, minutes, albeit mostly played at Ulster’s end of the pitch, before a penalty on half way was sent over by Kinghorn to give Edinburgh a 15-0 lead.
The following ten minutes were again fairly evenly distributed – although Ulster’s Sam Windsor gave the visitors a bit of a scare when he slid past a bobbling ball just outside his five metre line. He just managed to scramble and collect before Brown descended on him like a ton of bricks.
Proceeding were held up for a collision injury, which saw Tovey lead of for a check up, before No. 9, Ruan Pienaar, slotted a penalty home for Ulster’s first points and 15-3.
That penalty was wiped out a couple of minutes later as Tovey’s, temporary, replacement, Duncan Weir responded with a successful kick for 18-3.
Edinburgh were now enjoying the majority of territory and possession and another Weir kick six minutes from the break lead to a half time score of 21-3 to the hosts. Could they hang on, though?
Ulster came out for the second half all guns blazing and took the game to the home side, only a well organised defence keeping the Irish side at bay for the first few minutes.
Then, more than hanging on, Edinburgh put the first second half points on the board with their third try. Having weathered the storm, scrum-half, Sean Kennedy broke clear down the left wing and got his pass away under pressure from Pienaar to sub, Chris Dean. Dean then made ground before releasing the ball to back-row, Magnus Bradbury, putting the No. 8 in the clear for a run in and another Edinburgh try. Tovey knocked the kick over and Edinburgh were comfortably ahead, 28-3.
That was their final score, however, as Ulster ‘decided’ to come late to the party. Pressure on the Edinburgh line saw wing Tommy Bowe, stopped just short, but Ulster were now on the front foot and a neat kick over the defence from Pienaar, landed just short, but ‘appeared’ to be collected and grounded by full back, Charles Piutau, but the TMO ruled it out.
Not to be foiled, the visitors continued to press and, on 66 minutes, they scored their first try from another lob over the defence, sub, Aaron Cairns collecting and grounding with Pienaar adding the extras for 28-10.
Ulster were now looking dangerous and another try on 71 minutes from sub, Jason Stockdale – converted by Pienaar – gave us 28-17 and the hosts were looking a bit nervous.
However, they held out and scored a hugely significant win against strong opposition and went some way toward making amends for their defeat to Zebre the week before.
Images from the match will appear here over the next few days.