Trimble took no more than two minutes to mark his return, latching on to a superb cross-field kick from O'Connor and, despite initially being grounded by an Edinburgh tackle, the wing picked himself up and sprinted over the line for a stirring early try. O'Connor's wayward conversion meant the score stalled at Ulster 5 Edinburgh 0.
The Edinburgh response was just as rapid. The visitors applied good pressure straight from the restart and soon gained three points through a Chris Paterson penalty after Ulster had strayed offside. Two penalty attempts from O'Connor swiftly ensued, the first missing from the 10-metre line, while the second was slotted over from the 22 to make it Ulster 8 Edinburgh 3 on 15 minutes.
Ulster's next big push came after Edinburgh had been penalised for not releasing the ball on half-way. O'Connor kicked deep into the danger zone, and good recycling of the line-out ball eventually allowed Whitten in on the right wing to ground the try. The conversion once again failed to hit the target, but the lead looked healthy at Ulster 13 Edinburgh 3.
Paterson clawed back another three points just before the half-hour mark, but Ulster continued to dictate play as the half progressed. They were, however, fortunate not to concede again before the break, when the usually über-reliable Paterson angled a routine penalty wide of the posts.
Half-Time Score Ulster 13 Edinburgh 6
The second period opened with an Edinburgh offside, O'Connor making no mistake with his kick and extending the lead to 10 points. This was soon decimated, however, when Tim Visser, who had impressed and scored in the same fixture last season, picked up on half-way and avoided a handful of tackles to go over for an impressive solo try. Phil Godman, taking over kicking duties from the substituted Paterson, converted to make it Ulster 16 Edinburgh 13.
With Edinburgh's Scott Newlands sinbinned on 51 minutes for failing to release the ball, O'Connor nudged his team further in the lead from in front of the posts, but the game continued in its see-saw pattern with another Godman penalty minutes later. An O'Connor drop goal followed just before the hour had elapsed, and Ulster, intent on now putting clear daylight between themselves and the Scots, camped in the Edinburgh half for the following 10 minutes. With no try-scoring opportunities presenting themselves, O'Connor elected to kick for goal with a 68th-minute penalty, but again missed by the narrowest of margins.
The breakthrough came shortly afterwards, however, courtesy of a smart solo effort from Darren Cave, who picked up on the left, feigned a pass and cut inside all in a split second. The centre hit the deck under a strong tackle just before the line, but slid over to land the try thanks to his own momentum. O'Connor converted when it mattered to widen the gap at Ulster 29 Edinburgh 16.
Ben Cairns pulled five more points back in the closing stages but, with the Godman conversion off-target, any chance of an Edinburgh comeback evaporated, and indeed, the match ended with Ulster on the attack, battling in vain for an elusive bonus-securing fourth try.
Full-Time Score Ulster 29 Edinburgh 21
(15 - 9) J Smith, P Emerick, D Cave, I Whitten, A Trimble, N O'Connor, P Marshall
(1 - 8) B Young, A Kyriacou, T Court, J Muller (c), R Caldwell, S Ferris C Henry, R Diack
Replacements (16 - 22) R Best, P McAllister, BJ Botha, T Barker, P Wannenburg, I Porter, I Humphreys, D McIlwaine
(15 - 9) C Paterson, M Robertson, B Cairns, A Grove, T Visser, P Godman, M Blair
(1 - 8) A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, S MacLeod, C Hamilton, S Newlands, R Grant (c), N Talei
Replacements (16 - 22) A Kelly, K Traynor, J Gilding, S McInally, D Denton, G Laidlaw, D Blair, J Houston
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|
|Edinburgh Rugby Score Card|