Injury-hit Ulster hang on for victory
Ulster 14 Edinburgh 7
A decimated Ulster held on to defeat Edinburgh and leapfrog their Scottish visitors to take the Pro12 points in gale-force conditions at the Kingspan Stadium.
Ulster lost four key players to injury, three in the first half, and true grit allowed them to hold on to their 14-point advantage in game that lasted over two hours due to the many stoppages. A penalty try and a scorcher from Rory Scholes and two conversions by Paddy Jackson was enough to see off Alan Solomons's hard-nosed side.
Ulster, playing with a howling wind at their tails, immediately found that Edinburgh were going to present a very physical challenge with thumping tackles putting white shirts on the deck with some power.
Even before any of the teams really got a sweat, Ulster lost two big assets within six minutes when international Iain Henderson was carted off after appearing to damage his hamstring and Darren Cave also departed off after taking a heavy tackle on his shoulder.
However, it didn't stop Ulster taking the lead with a penalty try just as Henderson was being wheeled away.
Chris Henry drove off a lineout and at a ruck, Ruan Pienaar was prevented from an easy close-in score by flanker Mike Coman who tackled the scrum-half from an offside position.
Jackson converted from in front of the posts.
Four minutes later, Ulster had doubled their lead. A great set-piece saw replacement Louis Ludik give Scholes an inside pass and the left winger beautifully sidestepped Dougie Fife to score with Jackson adding the extras.
There were no more scores in a first half, but twice Ulster failed to close the deal after breaking through Edinburgh's Scrooge-like defence.
As expected, and with the elements in their favour, Edinburgh came out in the second half with all guns blazing and looking more business-like.
It wasn't long before they got the scoreboard moving again when fly-half Phil Burleigh slipped a neat kick through to leave No 8 Cornell Du Preez with the easy task of touching down. Cuthbert converted expertly from wide out. Game on.
But it was Ulster who took the game to Edinburgh, moving slowly and surely up field, with first Stuart McCloskey just driving short, and flanker Clive Ross held up over the line.
With both starting locks off, Ulster had to completely rearrange their pack and unfortunately came away without troubling the defence further.
However, Ulster came back with eight minutes remaining with Luke Marshall taking a superb ball from Pienaar to score.
However, the try was ruled out after Chris Henry was adjudged to have blocked an Edinburgh player from covering Marshall's break, much to the chagrin of the crowd.
But it mattered little as Ulster dug deep to keep the momentum going to take the precious points.
Ulster - P Nelson (McCloskey, 28); A Trimble, D Cave (Ludik, 6), L Marshall, R Scholes (P Marshall, 34-39); P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall (Warwick, 62), R Herring (capt), R Lutton (Herbst, 42), D Tuohy (Andrews, 60), F van der Merwe (O'Connor, 58), I Henderson (Ross, 4), C Henry, N Williams.
Edinburgh - J Cuthbert (Kinghorn, 54); D Fife, C Dean (Allen, 66), M Scott, W Helu; P Burleigh, S Kennedy (Fowles, 55); A Dickinson (Sutherland, 47), R Ford (Cochrane, 47), WP Nel (Andress, 47), A Bresler, A Toolis, M Coman (capt), J Hardie, C Du Preez.
Ref - Ian Davies (WRU).