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Pipped Again

Ulster 36 Gunners 34

The frustration continues. At Ravenhill tonight, the Gunners came roaring back from a 13-0 deficit to tie the game at 13 apiece at half time, then led 27-22 going into the final quarter, before eventually going down 36-34 in another nailbiting tussle.

Edinburgh made nine changes from the side that had been frustratingly pipped at the post by Newcastle last week. With Blackadder and Jacobsen out with injury, Grant Anderson started at loosehead, with Alan MacDonald, just back from Dubai, joining a youthful visiting back row. Meanwhile, Ulster gave a debut to South African Pfister in the back row, replacing Edinburgh's nemesis, the suspended Andy Ward.

An early ruck infringement allowed Humphreys to put the home side on the board with a penalty on eight minutes. On the quarter hour, Maggs notched the first try off a pass from Campbell. And Kiwi centre Steinmetz scored five minutes later after a useful break by Tyrone Howe.

But it was clear that the under strength Gunners were not going to succumb to the Ulstermen as they had done in the League last season. A half-break by the Chainsaw put Boston in plenty of space, and the big centre powered over for the Gunners' first try. Laney added two penalties to take the half time score to 13-13.

Humphreys opened the scoring in the second period with a penalty. But an appalling error by the home stand-off shortly afterwards saw his inviting looping pass intercepted by Ali Hogg, who raced half the length of the park to cruise over for the converted try to leave the Gunners.

Although Humphreys managed to slot a third penalty with almost an hour gone, he was having an uncharacteristic off day with the boot, and Steinmetz took over with a penalty to retake the lead.

In a see-sawing game, it wasn't long before Derrick Lee regained it with a converted try under the posts with ten minutes to go. But as so often this season, the Gunners were hit immediately after they had scored with a home try set up by the New Zealand centre, and ex-Borderer Campbell feather was then driven over for the bonus point try that made sure of the game.

Although substitute David Callam powered over for the Gunners' own bonus point try, the Gunners could not snatch a dramatic victory and were once again left pondering what might have been.

Despite Edinburgh emerging from the game with two bonus points for four tries and the close loss, Glasgow's impressive win over Connacht makes the Inter-City at Murrayfield on 27 December ever more crucial. If the Gunners are to prevail in the proverbial eight pointer, they need you there to cheer them on.


ULSTER: Maggs 1T, Steinmetz 1T 2C 1P, Bowe 1T, Feather 1T Humphreys 3P,
EDINBURGH; Laney 4C, 2P, Boston 1T, Hogg 1T, Lee 1T, Callam 1T.


Ulster: Cunningham, Bowe, Maggs, Steinmetz, Howe, Humphreys, Campbell, McCormack, Shields, Moore, Longwell, McCullough, Feather (cpt), Pfister, Wilson. Replacements: R Best, S Best, Frost, Mustchin, Doak, Larkin, Maxwell.

Edinburgh: D Lee, M Pyke, M Di Rollo, P Boston, Hugo, B Laney, M Blair, G Anderson, D Hall, C Smith, A Kellock, S Murray (capt.), A Strokosch, A Hogg, A MacDonald. Replacements: A Kelly, A Dickinson, F Pringle, D Callam, R Lawson, P Godman, B MacDougall.