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Edinburgh: 20 (13) Ulster: 42 (19)

Prior to tonight's kick off, a disturbingly familiar-looking pair of ears hovered above the referee's Specsavers jersey.  As he turned round to face the tifosi for the first time, a terrified hush descended upon Murrayfield as the locals realised the awful truth - GEORGE CLANCY IS TONIGHT'S REFEREE!  Cue 80 minutes of mayhem, accompanied by frequent anguished and/or disbelieving cries from the East Stand.  Yet while the penalty count in a match where territory and pressure was fairly evenly divided did favour visiting Ulster 12-7, the sad truth is that Embra did not need any help to lose this one.  They chucked it away themselves.

They were awful.  Second best in pretty much every aspect of the game.  They looked like they were saving themselves for the crucial Heineken match in Paris next week because on this form, they'd be better sending the B team. Ulster, meanwhile, also have a crucial Heineken match next weekend but they got stuck in.   Whether it was the abrasive running of Ferris, the poacher's instinct of Trimble or the marvellous mazy running of pixie scrum half Marshall, they richly deserved the win.   They absolutely dominated the breakdown, bossed the set piece in the second half in particular and scored a couple of cracking tries in their comfortable bonus point win.

The loss was all the more annoying given that Edinburgh had the chances to win.  Netani Talei seemed able to break the line at will, yet far too often no-one was on the shoulder to develop the attack.  Equally, Tom Brown had a super game on the wing, both in defence and attack.  The scrum capped Phil Godman put in one of his best line kicking displays in living memory.  But the fundamental problem was that the pack were far too passive at the breakdown and the support play generally was desperately poor.  Quite simply, they lost the battle up front and have a mountain to climb if they are not going to be blown away by Racing's gargantuan forwards next week.  The contrast with Ulster was glaring. 

Ian Humphreys put the visitors three up on two minutes after early Ulster pressure.  After Visser had gathered a Godman cross kick and was just tackled into touch, Ulster struck back with another Humph penalty on ten minutes.

Then Ulster gifted their hosts a try off the Godman restart that went far too deep.  Under no pressure, three Belfast men guddled the ball comically, allowing Nick de Luca to gather and score, Laidlaw's conversion putting the Gunners' noses in front.  As the quarter came to an end, Captain fantastic added a three pointer to the lead, but it was pegged back immediately with a Pienaar penalty.  The South African took over the kicking duties and the 10 slot from the injured Humphreys, with the lively Marshall coming on at scrum half.  This was to prove a productive switch.

On 27 minutes, Ulster won good quick ball in the red zone, stretched the defence and put Best over wide out for the unconverted try.  14-10.

They added their second immediately afterwards, a great take in the air off a defensive box kick following the restart sparked a breakout, which ended with Tuohy surging over in the corner, again Pienaar failing with the conversion.  Although Laidlaw's second penalty made the score 19-13 Ulster at the break, things were looking a little ominous.

The game was to all intents and purposes over after ten minutes of the second period.  Pienaar knocked over another penalty on 44 minutes.  Ulster won the restart ball and a shocking non-tackle by Cox on Marshall on the blindside allowed the wee blighter to scoot up the right wing.  He committed his man well before putting Trimble away for a fine try, converted by Pienaar.  Pienaar's next penalty made the score 32-13 with half an hour left to play.  Not impossible, but looking increasingly unlikely.

Edinburgh gamely huffed and puffed, but could not get any penetration.  And their final score of the evening came from another Ulster error, replacement hooker Alun Walker pouncing on a botched Ulster lineout throw for the try, Laidlaw converting.  20-32 with 20 minutes left and MacDonald coming on to add some more pace to the back row with the gaps starting to open up?

While that may have been the plan, it didn't work.  Ulster began to run the clock down and Edinburgh never seriousloy threatened for the rest of the match.  It was little surprise when some lovely interplay after Ulster had won turnover ball saw Cave go over for a well-worked fourth try.  Pienaar's conversion and his final penalty left the final score 20-42 and the Embra men with a lot of soul-searching to do if they are to keep their Heineken hopes alive in Paris next weekend.


Edinburgh: Paterson, T. Brown, De Luca, King, Visser, Godman, Laidlaw, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Cox, Lozada, McInally, Grant, Talei.Replacements: Thompson for Paterson (59), Scott for King (31), Leck for Godman (49), Traynor for Jacobsen (67), Walker for Ford (53), Gilding for Cross (70), MacDonald for McInally (61). Not Used: Gilchrist.

Ulster: Terblanche, Trimble, Cave, Whitten, Gilroy, Humphreys, Pienaar, Court, Best, Afoa, Muller, Tuohy, Ferris, Henry, Wannenburg.Replacements: Wallace for Whitten (60), D'Arcy for Gilroy (75), P. Marshall for Humphreys (21), Black for Court (77), Kyriacou for Best (70), Macklin for Afoa (77), Stevenson for Tuohy (70), W. Faloon for Wannenburg (11).

Referee: Clancy (IRFU)