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the game at a glance

Star turn

Who else could it possibly be? Ruan Pienaar's God-like status in Ulster (and handy Christian name pronunciation) was demonstrated by various slogans such as 'The Ruan And Only' and 'Ruan Direction', but the most relevant banner to Saturday's performance and his overall contribution was the one which simply declared: "You've Been Pienaared".

Magic moment

Edinburgh's finishing may have let them down, but they still produced some wonderful moments of skill through their willingness to run the ball. However, Stephen Ferris' back-of-the-hand pass out of contact to Andrew Trimble after 10 minutes was pretty special.

Turning point

Edinburgh were pushing hard at 13-12 after 49 minutes when Pienaar went blind and, with nothing on, unleashed a beautiful kick down the touchline, swallowed up full-back Tom Brown and brought his team to within five metres of the Edinburgh line.

Talking point

Ireland's biggest issue remains finding someone to back up Mike Ross at tight-head prop, and Declan Fitzpatrick gave a hugely encouraging display in this regard (Adam Macklin looked okay also). But with John Afoa due back from suspension, is there enough time or opportunity for Fitzpatrick to book his spot on the tour to New Zealand?

Ref watch

Romain Poite had a reasonable outing here. He was possibly a bit harsh for Stefan Terblanche's sin-binning and Edinburgh will rue the Frenchman missing the ball bobbing out of the scrum for Pedrie Wannenburg's try, but the referee was not the decisive factor in this result.

Crowd watch

All the Irish provinces enjoy excellent support, but few teams in Europe can match the intensity of Ulster's crew when they get going, and whether it was singing, cheering or booing, the noise was relentless. They travelled in their masses and stood up repeatedly for their team, earning the appreciation of players and management afterwards.

Bizarre moment

There was a double take when a line of gentlemen in bowler hats began marching across the pitch prior to kick-off and calendars were hastily checked to make sure it was not July 12. However, rather than a Lambeg drum occasion, the display was part of ERC's 'London Calling' drive to promote the final in Twickenham. They'll have no shortage of Ulster takers for that march.

What they said

Rory Best (Ulster hooker):

"This is massive for Ulster rugby and the Ulster fans were like a 16th man to us. There is a group of us -- Nigel Brady, Stephen Ferris, Declan Fitzpatrick, Paddy Wallace and Andrew Trimble -- that have come through a lot of dark days and stuck around to try to get to an occasion like this."

Michael Bradley (Edinburgh coach):

"For Edinburgh Rugby as a brand, there's a lot more respect for the colours now on the basis of how we can play rugby and, given a chance, open people up, and that's a credit to Ulster today for shutting us down."

What next?

Ulster face Leinster in the Twickenham final on May 19.

Irish Independent