Marshall lays down law as commanding Ulster outgun Edinburgh
Ulster's big-name signing Ruan Pienaar watched his new team-mates surge, temporarily at least, to the top of the Magners League with a commanding victory over Edinburgh at Ravenhill last night.
The only minus was their failure to grab a bonus point fourth try.
The Springbok half-back would have been very impressed with the commitment and intensity of Ulster's play, and also scrum-half Paul Marshall's man-of-the-match performance.
The diminutive No 9 badgered the Edinburgh defence with his little runs and towering kicks. It all proved too much for the Scots, who leaked tries from Andrew Trimble, Ian Whitten and Darren Cave.
Ulster got off to an explosive start, with the pack recycling at will for a full three minutes before Niall O'Connor placed a neat cross-field kick over the head of Edinburgh right wing Mark Robertson to find Trimble charging up the wing, and he sprinted over.
O'Connor and Paterson traded penalties before Ulster grabbed their second try in the 23rd minute. A Marshall dart through a gap at a ruck set up the position which was finished by a miss-pass by O'Connor to Whitten, who dived over.
Paterson floated over his second penalty in the 26th minute during a break from intense Ulster penalty then missed a simlar effort in the run up to half-time from what is normally a banker.
Paterson did not reappear for the second half as Ulster continued to dominate with O'Connor adding his second penalty.
But alas, Ulster's perfect performance was blotted in the 47th minute when they allowed Edinburgh to score a try from nothing. A non-descript move down the left saw Tim Visser tight to the touchline evade three fluffy tackles to dander in midway out for Phil Godman to convert.
O'Connor and Godman were successful with penalties before Edinburgh lost flanker Scott Newlands to the bin on 50 minutes.
In the time he was off, O'Connor put over a penalty and drop-goal as Ulster stretched out a 22-16 lead.
Cave then carved through the Edinburgh midfield to stretch over for try number three with 10 minutes remaining. But Edinburgh made them sweat for victory when Ben Cairns swooped for a try.
Despite intense pressure on the visitors' line at the end, Ulster had to be satisfied with a four-pointer.
Ulster -- J Smith; P Emerick, I Whitten, D Cave, A Trimble; N O'Connor, P Marshall (Porter, 67); B Young (Botha, 50), A Kyriacou (Best, 50), T Court, J Muller, capt, R Caldwell, S Ferris, C Henry, R Diack (Wannenburg, 50).
Edinburgh -- C Paterson (Huston, 40); M Robertson, B Cairns, A Grove, T Visser; P Godman, M Blair (Laidlaw, 67); A Jacobsen (Traynor, 67), R Ford, G Cross (Gilding 62), S MacLeod, C Hamilton, S Newlands (Denton, 75), N Talei, R Grant (capt).
Ref -- Alan Falzone (FIR)