RUGBY: Ulster secure crucial bonus point away win at Edinburgh

John Cooney goes over for Ulster's third try against Edinburgh
John Cooney goes over for Ulster's third try against Edinburgh

EDINBURGH 20 ULSTER 32

Ulster ensured there is still plenty to play for in the Guinness PRO14 and with regard to Champions Cup qualification for next season with a well deserved bonus point win over Edinburgh.

They left it late, scoring the fourth and bonus point securing try in the final minute of the game, having scored three tries in the first 25 minutes.

Importantly Ulster also denied the Scots a losing bonus point and cut their advantage to eight points in Conference B.

Ulster have three games remaining and still need Edinburgh to slip up in their last two matches to make the PRO14 play-offs, but in terms of at least securing fourth place and a play-off for Europe next season, this impressive display at Murrayfield will lift the Ulster support.

Ulster scored three tries with a breath taking display to storm into a 19-6 lead on 24 minutes after Duncan Weir had kicked Edinburgh into a 3-0 lead with a ninth minute penalty.

Darren Cave goes over for Ulster's opening try against Edinburgh

Darren Cave goes over for Ulster's opening try against Edinburgh

Three minutes after, solid Ulster set piece saw Ulster's back's turn on the style, Louis Ludik and Charles Piutau combining before Piutau's reverse offload to Jaco Stockdale saw the Irish winger take off before drawing his man and sending Darren Cave away under the posts. John Cooney obliged with the extras.

Ulster saw some ill discipline eventually penalised by another penalty from outhafl Weir, but the visitors composed themselves and off another set piece delivered again. Cooney, Rory Best, McPhillips and Cave all showed fine handling before Piutau powered his way over. Cooney converted the 20th minute try for a 12-6 lead.

Four minutes later - and again from set piece play - Cooney crossed for a try under the posts leaving his conversion a formality and Ulster were in full command at 19-6.

But errors then began to creep into their game and Edinburgh began to get a foothold in the game, but Ulster seemed to be defending well enough. Then from a scrum as Cooney looked to find Stuart McCloskey, Weir took his chance, intercepted and hared in from halfway, converted and that left six points between the sides at the break.

Concerns around the scrum for Ulster were well founded, although few had expected it to take until the 43rd minute for the first scrum of the game to be awarded.

Having been penalised at the first, they did better at the second and eventually forced a penalty which Cooney converted to extend their lead to 22-13 after 50 minutes.

From there Edinburgh began to grow further into the game and having changed their front five began to dominate up front, particularly in the scrum. A series of penalties on the Ulster line eventually led to a penalty try which saw the Scots back to within two points after 58 minutes.

Debutant Tom O'Toole, who had a solid performance around the pitch, was pulled from the action and replaced by Rodney Ah You on the tighthead side.

A lovely break by Stuart McCloskey seemed to have unlocked the Edinburgh defence, he popped to Cave but he was tackled illegally and Cooney popped over the penalty to give Ulster a five point cushion with 15 minutes remaining.

Ulster looked hard for the bonus point securing try in the closing 10 minutes, but chance after chance was spurned, the best coming when McCloskey made a great burst down the left flank but just could not shake off the Edinburgh tackles as he neared the try line.

But they were not to be denied for their efforts. From a scrum Ulster pummelled the home line and Irish international Iain Henderson barged his way over to secure that crucial fourth try. Cooney converted.