The unavailability of Nevin Spence due to a hand injury enforced several changes from the back seven which had lined up in the 15 - 14 defeat of the Ospreys, with Adam D'Arcy coming in at full-back, and Ian Whitten and Stefan Terblanche shifting to outside centre and left wing respectively. Meanwhile, among the forwards, Chris Henry's inclusion in Ireland's travelling squad meant the return of Robbie Diack at Number Eight, with Pedrie Wannenburg moving to six. The Springbok's evening was short-lived, however, as he picked up an arm injury and ceded his place to Mike McComish inside 10 minutes.
Edinburgh's play in the opening exchanges belied their lowly Pro12 league standing, and they fully deserved the lead established by their fourth-minute try, touched down in the right-hand corner by Sep Visser. The Phil Godman conversion kick missed, however, and less than two minutes had elapsed before Ruan Pienaar had the chance to pull three points back. The penalty veered off-course, however, and the score stood at Ulster 0 Edinburgh 5.
The game continued in its free-flowing manner, and Ravenhill didn't have to wait much longer for the hosts to get themselves on the scoreboard, with D'Arcy the main architect of the 10th-minute try thanks to a superb burst from midfield. The full-back supplied Pienaar at the right moment, the Springbok evaded a handful of tackles and did likewise for Paul Marshall, who showed a clean pair of heels to his chasers and darted over to ground the score. Pienaar then converted to propel Ulster into the lead.
Moments later the Ulster tally was doubled, with Terblanche grounding by the left-hand corner flag after swift crossfield passing from the backs, and Pienaar again on target with his conversion. With the score at Ulster 14 Edinburgh 5 on 20 minutes and the visitors beginning to look decidedly vulnerable, D'Arcy again tore up the turf after a quick Ulster turnover on half-way, and the opportunity for a third try was only quashed by an unfortunate knock-on as play spread across the park to the right wing.
The white-and-red tide came again, however, and a fine break from a scrum deep in Ulster territory, from Marshall first and then Craig Gilroy, saw it wash over the Edinburgh defence and culminate in the heavily-involved D'Arcy diving under the posts on the half-hour mark. Pienaar's conversion took the score to Ulster 21 Edinburgh 5, but his opposite number Godman had just enough time to kick his team three more points on the stroke of the break courtesy of a 22-metre penalty.
Half-Time Score Ulster 21 Edinburgh 8
A further Godman penalty just the other side of the interval got the Scots into double figures, but with play then halted for a good 10 minutes as emergency first-aid treatment was administered to McComish for a head injury, both sides struggled to keep their concentration. However, once play had finally restarted, Ulster proved the more focused of the two, as repeated Edinburgh infringements at the scrum saw referee Nigel Owens award a penalty try on 50 minutes. The bonus point now confirmed, Pienaar converted to raise the score to Ulster 28 Edinburgh 11.
With the result and the bonus point secured, Brian McLaughlin rang multiple personnel changes on the hour, and young replacement Chris Cochrane showed good awareness on 63 minutes to pick up and land a close-range try after strong scrummaging from the Ulster pack. The cheer for Cochrane's score was matched moments later by the PA announcement that McComish's injury was not as serious as first feared.
Edinburgh grabbed an unconverted consolation try on 73 minutes through Tim Visser, but this was cancelled out just prior to full-time when replacement Ian Humphreys' fresh legs carried him from half-way to the right-hand corner flag for a fine individual try. Pienaar's conversion unluckily clattering the Edinburgh upright drew the match to a close, but it mattered little as Ulster celebrated their fourth bonus point victory of the campaign.
Full-Time Score Ulster 38 Edinburgh 16
(15 - 9) A D'Arcy; C Gilroy, I Whitten, P Wallace (c), S Terblanche; R Pienaar, P Marshall
(1 - 8) P McAllister, A Kyriacou, J Afoa; L Stevenson, D Tuohy; P Wannenburg, W Faloon, R Diack
Replacements (16 - 23) N Brady, C Black, A Macklin, N McComb, M McComish, I Humphreys, L Marshall, C Cochrane
(15 - 9) T Brown; S Visser, M Scott, J Houston, T Visser; P Godman, C Leck
(1 - 8) K Traynor, A Kelly, U Gamboa; G Gilchrist, S Cox; S McInally, R Grant (c), N Talei
Replacements (16 - 23) A Walker, R Hislop, J Gilding, R McAlpine, H Watson, A Black, H Leonard, C Paterson
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|
|Edinburgh Rugby Score Card|