ULSTER HELD ON by the skin of their teeth to record a 24-18 bonus point win over Edinburgh at the Kingspan Stadium and end a four game slide.
They had the four tries by half-time and looked to be coasting in the early stages of the second half too, but Edinburgh fought back and nearly snatched it at the end, only for Ulster to hold on.
Coming into the game the hosts were on a four game losing streak, and when Magnus Bradbury powered his way over in only the second minute there were fears that this might be a fifth.
But any worries were alleviated when Ulster struck back within the 10 minute mark, Stuart Olding taking the ball on from a ruck and offloading smartly to Paul Marshall who took the ball the rest of the way.
With a dominant set of forwards, Ulster quickly gained the upper hand, and their second try came off the back of a scrum won against the head with Darren Cave the one going over from close range.
They did get a massive let off, though, when an excellent dummy from Jason Tovey set the out-half through only for winger Damien Hoyland to drop the ball practically on the line when Tovey passed inside.
Ulster made them pay, notching a third try as a piece of individual brilliance from Charles Piutau saw him go past two defenders and send Louis Ludik over unopposed for the score.
And they had the bonus point secured in the 32nd minute as Robbie Diack found some space wide and spun the ball back inside for Jacob Stockdale who outpaced the last defender to dot down.
But Edinburgh wouldn’t give up and they got themselves back into it minutes before the interval when Stuart McInally touched down a few phases after a driving maul to leave it at 24-10 at the break.
In the second half it was a case of Ulster were their own worst enemy as they dominated the game for the first 10 minutes but they could not get over the line to kill the game off, and even worse they had to watch the excellent Piutau limp off.
Instead Edinburgh scored with their first venture into the Ulster half of the second period with winger Hoyland finding the space in the corner to slide in for their third try.
Substitute scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne put over a penalty to bring the gap back within seven points, setting up a nervy finish as the Scots got their tails up and Ulster visibly tired.
They nearly had it, too, three minutes from the end when they went the length of the pitch only for Nigel Owens to award them what looked to be a slightly fortunate penalty at the breakdown.
Edinburgh continued to battle away though, and they kept going well into overtime in search of a match-winning score, but ultimately the home side just held on, although it could have been a lot worse.
Ulster scorers:Tries: Marshall, Cave, Ludik, Stockdale
Conversions: Nelson [2 from 4]
Tries: Bradbury, McInally, Hoyland
Conversions: Tovey [0 from 2], Hidalgo-Clyne [0 from 1]
Penalties: Hidalgo-Clyne [1 for 1]
ULSTER: Louis Ludik, Jacob Stockdale, Darren Cave (Stuart McCloskey 40), Stuart Olding, Charles Piutau (Tommy Bowe 49), Peter Nelson, Paul Marshall (David Shanahan 66); Andrew Warwick (Callum Black 54), John Andrew, Ricky Lutton (Wiehahn Herbst 40), Kieran Treadwell (Peter Browne 62), Alan O’Connor (Johnny Murphy 73), Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Marcell Coetzee (Sean Reidy 59).
EDINBURGH: Blair Kinghorn (Rory Scholes 42), Damien Hoyland, Chris Dean, Phil Burleigh (Mike Allen 64), Tom Brown, Jason Tovey, Sean Kennedy (Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 49); Jack Cosgrove, Stuart McInally (George Turner 54), Murray McCallum (Nick Beavon 62), Fraser McKenzie (Lewis Carmichael 62), Ben Toolis, Viliame Mata (Viliame Mata 62), Jamie Ritchie (Derek Appiah 66), Magnus Bradbury.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).
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