Robert Baloucoune scores a try. Craig Watson/INPHO
case for the defence

Ulster show their mettle to survive late Edinburgh onslaught

Ulster lost captain Iain Henderson to an early injury but rallied to secure crucial victory.



Lewis Stuart reports from Edinburgh

BRILLIANT LAST-DITCH defence in the final quarter gave Ulster a shot at a top-four place in when the league stage of the United Rugby Championship comes to a head next week. They got the points on the board in the first half and just held on as the home side came back into the game late on.

The table in the URC had been so tight going into the weekend the result might have made the difference between competing for a home tie in the play-offs and missing out altogether. By the time kick off arrived, other results meant Ulster were assured of at least making the knock-out stage but they still had bigger fish to fry – the chance of a return to the Kingspan Stadium when they did.

Not that they seemed entirely switched on in the opening exchanges, with Edinburgh butchering two clear scoring chances as well as a third opportunity that was less clear cut.

In fact it took a mini crisis to wake the Irish side from their doldrums when they lost captain Iain Henderson to a head knock and then flanker Nick Timoney to a sin bin.

Their response was impressive, winning a series of penalties and a eventually creating space for a clever flick pass from replacement centre Stewart Moore to sent wing Rob Baloucoune in for the opening score.

robert-baloucoune-celebrates-after-scoring-a-try Baloucoune celebrates after scoring a try. Craig Watson / INPHO Craig Watson / INPHO / INPHO

Nathan Doak landed the conversion and soon added a couple of penalties. With Edinburgh still struggling with both their discipline and finishing chances, they were looking comfortable and good value for their 10 point half time lead despite the Scots pulling a penalty back with the last kick of the half.

It didn’t take long for normal service to resume in the second half with Doak, who had seen an earlier shot come back off the post, putting his side 13 points ahead though it took some stiff defence to keep it there. The Scot’s won a series of penalties on the Ulster line but couldn’t get over for a score even after Alan Connor, the replacement lock, was yellow-carded.

Even after he came back, it was still all Edinburgh but the resistance stood firm until a moment of magic from Mark Bennett, the home Centre, who chipped over the defence and won the race to the ball himself, brought the Scots back into the game.

They still had time to snatch the result no threw everything they had into the attempt, only for the Ulster defence to stand strong right through to the end.

Edinburgh scorers
Try: Mark Bennett
Con: Emiliano Boffelli [1 from 1]
Pen: Emiliano Boffelli [1 from 1]

Ulster scorers
Try: Rob Baloucoune
Con: Nathan Doak [1 from 1]
Pens: Nathan Doak [3 from 4]

Edinburgh: Jaco van der Walt; Damien Hoyland, Mark Bennett, James Lang (Chris Dean, 3), Emiliano Boffelli; Blair Kinghorn, Ben Vellacott (Henry Pyrgos, 58); Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally (Dave Cherry, 5-14, 16), WP Nel (Lee-Roy Atalifo, 60), Jamie Hodgson (Pierce Phillips, 62), Grant Gilchrist (C), Luke Crosbie (Ben Muncaster, 49), Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury

Ulster: Mike Lowry (Rob Lyttle, 58-70); Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey (Stewart Moore, 6), Ethan McIlroy; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak (John Cooney, 50); Andrew Warwick (Eric O’Sullivan, 49), Rob Herring (Brad Roberts, 66), Gareth Milasinovich (Ross Kane, 61), Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (C) (Alan O’Connor, 5, sin bin: 54-64), Marcus Rea (Matty Rea, 77), Nick Timoney (sin bin: 5-15), Duane Vermeulen.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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