Monday 18 December 2017

Cave puts icing on cake as rampant Ulster storm into fifth spot

Ulster continued their fine form in the Pro12 to jump into fifth spot in the table with an impressive bonus-point win at Murrayfield last night, courtesy of a muscular performance from their forwards and controlled back play.

Ulster's early commitment to running rugby brought points within three minutes, their pressure forcing a penalty which Ian Humphreys made count with an accurate kick.

Edinburgh replied with a similar brand of rugby and came close to scoring when the Pro12's leading scorer Tim Visser collected a cross-kick from Phil Godman, only to be stopped short of the line.

But when Ulster returned to the attack Edinburgh offended at the contact area and again Humphreys administered justice. Ulster, however, were soon in arrears as their midfield mishandled poorly-distributed ball from the restart, allowing Nick de Luca to gain possession and scramble over. Greig Laidlaw converted.

Minutes later Laidlaw added a penalty for a 10-6 lead but an offside decision allowed Humphreys to cut the gap to one point. Almost immediately Humphreys was forced to retire, replaced by Paul Marshall with Ruan Pienaar moving to out-half.

The reshuffled half-back partnership were soon helping to lead the Ulster attack, and when Edinburgh turned over possession, the visitors worked the ball right for Rory Best to take an inside pass and crash over an unconverted try.

From the restart Stephen Ferris was released up the touchline, and the Ireland back-row delivered the scoring pass to Dan Tuohy for a 19-10 lead. But just on half-time Laidlaw kicked a penalty to leave Ulster 19-13 ahead at the break.

It was Ulster who struck first on the restart with a penalty from Pienaar. Then after a darting break by Marshall, Andrew Trimble raced past Visser to score his side's third try, Pienaar converting to make it 29-13. Edinburgh's plight was made worse with a second penalty from Pienaar.

The hosts replied with a try off the back of the line-out by replacement hooker Alun Walker and the conversion by Laidlaw.

But Marshall again made a telling break and Darren Cave dived in at the corner. Pienaar converted and then added a penalty for the final points.

Edinburgh -- C Paterson (J Thompson 59); T Brown, N de Luca, J King (M Scott 31), T Visser; P Godman (C Leck 48), G Laidlaw; A Jacobsen (K Traynor 67), R Ford ( A Walker 52), G Cross (J Gilding 69), S Cox, E Lozada, S McInally (A MacDonald 60), R Grant, N Talei.

Ulster -- S Terblanche; A Trimble, D Cave, I Whitten (P Wallace 60), C Gilroy; I Humphreys (P Marshall 21), R Pienaar; T Court (C Black 77), R Best (A Kyriacou 61), J Afoa (A Macklin 77), J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, S Ferris (L Stevenson 70), C Henry, P Wannenburg (W Faloon 11) .

REF -- G Clancy (IRFU).

Irish Independent

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