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Ulster: 13 (13) Edinburgh: 16 (7)

The website has this week struggled to cope with the early season excitement, crashing for a few days under the weight of public expectation.  But the squad have taken it in their stride, kept their feet on the ground etc etc. They did so again this evening at Ravenhill with a tight win in a nailbiting finish.  The last three meetings between the two sides have seen the losers emerge with a bonus point, so perhaps this was no surprise.  Embra brought home the points with the aid of a second half shutout of the home side, a doughty defensive effort and the trusty boots of Chris Paterson and Phil Godman. The victory was their ninth in a row in the Magners.

They made pretty hard work of it, admittedly.  But you can't score 8 tries at a canter every week.  Given their quite spectacularly poor away form last season, any win on the road is a welcome one, and the Gunners have kicked off this term with two out of two. They sit four points clear at the top of the table, ahead of Leinster and the Newportgwentdragons, who prevailed over Glasgow this evening.

A few seasons ago, the words 'Godman' and 'tactical kicking' would usually appear next to the word 'erratic' (or some other slightly more robust terminology).  Not any more.  The Embra playmaker has really worked hard on this aspect of his game, and it was a key factor in closing out the win tonight.  It had to be, as the Edinburgh set piece was under pressure for most of the evening.

Ravenhill is not an easy place to win at, as Edinburgh know only too well from years of experience.  And Ulster began the match strongly, with two tries in the opening 20 minutes.  First it was openside Ferris, then the improbably named Australian full back Clinton Schifcofske (bless you!) notching touchdowns.  Humphreys failed to goal either, though, so the lead was limited to 10.

On the half hour, Tim Visser, The Dutch Mark Robertson, powered over for the visitors' opening try.  Paterson made no mistake with the conversion.  Ulster continued to have the upper hand, though, and a penalty from Humphreys towards the end of the half left the score at the break 13-7 to the Ulstermen.

Yet while Ulster started the second period as they ended the first, Edinburgh were beginning to play a bit themselves.  And when Paddy Wallace, on for Humphreys, was carded on the hour, Paterson knocked over the penalty to narrow the gap to three going into the final quarter.  Mossy then set up a barnstorming finish with another penalty on 67 minutes.  Game on.

The mercurial midfield mini-maestro, Phil Godman, made it even more interesting with a dropped goal on 72 minutes.  We haven't seen so many of those for Edinburgh since the retirement of veteran stand-off Duncan 'Hodgey' Hodge.  Nevertheless, the Embra playmaker's score nudged his side into the lead with the clock ticking down.  Together with replacement scrum half Mike Blair, the 10 steered the visitors to a scrappy but welcome victory.  They all count.

Cliches become cliches because they contain an element of truth.  And we saw once again tonight that the mark of a good team is that they can win while not performing at 100%. 

Next up are European champs Leinster, who'll visit Murrayfield a week tomorrow at 1830 hrs for what promises to be a cracking match and the toughest test yet for the Embra class of 09/10.


Ulster: Humphreys 1P, Ferris 1T, Schifcofske 1T
Edinburgh: Godman 1DG Paterson 2P 1C, Visser 1T


Ulster Rugby: 15. Clinton Schifcofske   14. Timoci Nagusa   13. Darren Cave   12. Ian Whitten   11. Simon Danielli   10. Ian Humphreys   9. Isaac Boss   1. Bryan Young   2. Andy Kyriacou   3. BJ Botha   4. Ed O'Donoghue   5. Neil McComb   6. Stephen Ferris   7. Willie Faloon   8. Chris Henry  
Replacements: 16. Nigel Brady   17. Declan Fitzpatrick   18. Tamaiti Horua   19. Robbie Diack   20. Cillian Willis   21. Paddy Wallace   22. Andrew Trimble  
Edinburgh: 15. Chris Paterson   14. Mark Robertson   13. Ben Cairns   12. John Houston   11. Tim Visser   10. Phil Godman   9. Greig Laidlaw   1. Kyle Traynor   2. Ross Ford   3. Geoff Cross   4. Craig Hamilton   5. Scott Macleod   6. Scott Newlands   7. Roddy Grant   8. Allister Hogg  
Replacements: 16. Andrew Kelly   17. Allan Jacobsen   18. Andrew Turnbull   19. Fraser McKenzie   20. Mike Blair   21. Steve Jones   22. Nick de Luca  

Referee: Your fave and mine, Nigel Owens (WRU)