Pro12: Edinburgh 14-8 Ulster

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI
Sean Kennedy and Stuart Olding
Sean Kennedy and Stuart Olding

Struggling Edinburgh took a rare Pro12 victory by beating a below-par Ulster, who managed to salvage a bonus point.

The result is a further blow to Mark Anscombe's side's hopes of clinching a home tie in the semi-final play-offs.

Two penalties from Piers Francis to one by Paddy Jackson gave Edinburgh a deserved 6-3 lead at the interval.

Stuart McInally and Andrew Trimble scored second-half tries for their sides, while Jackson crucially missed three penalties and a conversion.

Ulster began the game boosted by the return of long-term injury absentees Jared Payne and Johann Muller as they sought to end a run of three Pro12 matches without a win.

Edinburgh had interim coaches Stevie Scott and Duncan Hodge in charge for the first time following the departure of Michael Bradley.

The visitors exerted the early pressure but had a fortunate escape when full-back Payne's attempted clearance kick was charged down by Ross Rennie, only for Trimble to collect the loose ball and prevent a likely try.

Francis knocked over his first penalty after 16 minutes and Edinburgh then produced some enterprising play, forcing Ulster into a period of stout defence.

Francis extended the lead on the half hour with his second kick from in front of the posts after Jackson had been penalised for offside.

A Jackson penalty in the final minute of the first half reduced the deficit to three points but the Irish fly-half was unsuccessful with three further attempts in the first quarter of the second period.

The home side crossed the Ulster line for the first try of the game when Netani Talei made a surging break after a scrum and passed to fellow back row McInally, who spiralled out of a tackle and touched down.

Francis skewed a seemingly straightforward conversion kick wide of the posts.

Ten minutes later, Jackson and Michael Allen passed quickly along the back line and then Payne broke clear, before feeding Trimble, who dived over in the corner for a well worked try.

Jackson's disappointing night with the boot continued as he was well off target with the conversion kick.

Soon after, Francis squandered a good opportunity to extend his side's advantage when he spilled the ball forward as he prepared to touch down.

He made amends by landing his third penalty with four minutes remaining to secure his team's fifth victory of their Pro12 campaign.

The single point earned by Ulster takes them back to the top of the table, but Glasgow and Leinster both have the chance to move above them when they meet at the RDS on Saturday.

Edinburgh: G Tonks, L Jones, D Fife, B Atiga, T Brown, P Francis, S Kennedy; A Jacobsen, S Lawrie, W Nel, G Gilchrist, S Cox (cpt), S McInally, R Rennie, N Talei.

Replacements: R Ford for Lawrie (56), J Yapp for Jacobsen (65), H Watson for Talei (77) , T Visser for Brown (67).

Not used: G Cross, P Parker, R Rees, H Leonard

Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, S Olding, M Allen, P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, R Herring, J Afoa, J Muller, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, M McComish, R Diack.

Replacements: N Williams for Muller (41), M Heaney for Marshall (60), P Nelson for Olding (55).

Not used: N Annett, C Black, R Lutton, A Birch, R Andrew.

Attendance: 4,714

Referee: Leighton Hodges (RFU).

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