Rotation amongst the forwards continued with Paddy McAllister starting in the front row in place of Tom Court, Dan Tuohy deposing Tim Barker at lock, and Chris Henry taking over at flanker from Pedrie Wannenburg, who earned a well-deserved rest on the bench. These changes allowed Stephen Ferris to reassume his more familiar position on the blindside flank, after filling the openside role against Biarritz.
Once play got underway in a rain-sodden Murrayfield, Edinburgh were penalised early on for coming in from the side. Wallace pushed his first kick of the evening wide of the right-hand post, before a speculative drop-goal attempt from David Blair went similarly off-target. The Scots wasted no time pressing forward from the restart, however, and when Blair supplied Fraser McKenzie metres from the line, the massive second row bludgeoned his way over for a tenth-minute try. The Paterson conversion missed but the Scots led at Edinburgh 5 Ulster 0.
As play reconvened, a rapid 40-metre burst from D'Arcy exemplified Ulster's hunger to strike straight back at the Scots, and they soon had points on the board after Wallace had slotted over a 14th-minute penalty from a more favourable position on the left flank. Edinburgh's five-point lead was restored 10 minutes later, however, with Paterson splitting the posts after Ulster had held on too long in the tackle for referee Mr Jones's liking.
Then, a patient Ulster build-up on the half-hour, with recycling from left to right and left again, eventually made enough room for Whitten to carve a diagonal swathe through the defence and over the line and register his second try against the Scots in as many matches. Wallace converted smartly to inch his team into the lead at Edinburgh 8 Ulster 10.
A second try looked to be on the cards after a series of excellent exchanges between the youthful triumvirate of D'Arcy, McCrea and McIlwaine down the left wing, but the threat broke down centimetres from the line due to a slight forward fumble of the slippery ball. Ulster put exceptional pressure on the Edinburgh put-in but the Scots resisted admirably and eventually cleared their lines on the stroke of half-time.
Half-Time Score Edinburgh 8 Ulster 10
With Edinburgh penalised for not staying on their feet minutes from the restart, Wallace stepped up to the plate again to strike a sweet kick from the 10-metre line and put his team five points ahead. The lead was short-lived, however, as Fijian number 8 Natani Talei stretched over to touch down on 45 minutes after doing most of the build-up work himself in a blistering dash from deep. Paterson's conversion put the Scots back in the driving seat at Edinburgh 15 Ulster 13.
As the rain continued to teem down and make playing conditions increasingly difficult, errors began to creep into the game on both sides. When Andi Kyriacou - on for Rory Best - was adjudged to have infringed by failing to release the ball in time, Paterson put over a simple kick from in front of the posts to extend the Edinburgh lead further still, and leave Ulster requiring an unconverted try to draw level.
With Wannenburg and Bryan Young entering the fray on 66 minutes, Edinburgh had the chance to kill off the encounter with a penalty for Ulster infringement at the scrum, but their usually-reliable skipper Paterson clipped his kick just wide and Ulster breathed again. Edinburgh forward Kyle Trainor saw yellow on 73 minutes for coming in from the side, and the recently-introduced Ian Humphreys hammered over an exquisite kick with the left boot to reduce the gap to a meagre two points at Edinburgh 18 Ulster 16.
But a second Blair drop goal effort seconds later was crucially on target this time, putting the onus back on Ulster to penetrate for a winning score. This proved impossible for several minutes as the canny Scots slowed play down to a virtual standstill in the middle of the park. When the Ulstermen finally got possession back, the combination of poor playing conditions and sheer desperation as the game faded into overtime contrived to prevent a clear-cut opportunity presenting itself, and Edinburgh held on to exact revenge for last month's turnover at Ravenhill.
Full-Time Score Edinburgh 21 Ulster 16
(15 - 9) C Paterson (c); J Thompson, B Cairns, J King, T Visser; D Blair, G Laidlaw
(1 - 8) A Jacobsen, A Kelly, G Cross; S MacLeod, F McKenzie; A MacDonald, R Rennie, N Talei
Replacements (16 - 23) F Gillies, K Traynor, D Young, G Gilchrist, S Newlands, M Blair, A Grove, M Robertson
(15 - 9) A D'Arcy; M McCrea, A Trimble, I Whitten, D McIlwaine; P Wallace, R Pienaar
(1 - 8) P McAllister, R Best (c), BJ Botha; J Muller, D Tuohy; S Ferris, C Henry, R Diack
Replacements (16 - 23) A Kyriacou, T Court, B Young, R Caldwell, P Wannenburg, P Marshall, I Humphreys, N Spence
|Edinburgh Rugby Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|