Pro12: Edinburgh 16-10 Ulster

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Ulster suffer defeat in Edinburgh
Edinburgh: (6) 16
Try: Watson Con: Tonks Pens: Tonks 3
Ulster: (3) 10
Try: Reidy Con: Nelson Pen: Nelson

Edinburgh maintained their winning start to the season, grinding out an unglamorous victory over Ulster at Murrayfield.

In a game otherwise lacking in accuracy and verve, the outstanding openside flanker Hamish Watson scored a fine second-half try for the hosts.

Sean Reidy's close-range effort had nudged Ulster ahead after the break.

But, as Ulster pressed, Watson's crucial intervention on the last play gave Edinburgh a fourth straight win.

During a drab first half, home full-back Greig Tonks traded penalties with visitors' stand-off Peter Nelson for a 6-3 lead at the interval, but a lack of precision and dynamism halted promising moves for both teams.

Watson, the game's stand-out player, proved a perennial menace at the breakdown from the off, displaying quick feet and a machine-like leg drive to make unlikely yards in contact.

In keeping with much of elite Irish rugby, however, the visitors were largely adept at soaking up Edinburgh's carries with their choke tackle technique yielding turnovers.

Hamish Watson scores for Edinburgh
Hamish Watson was the game's outstanding player, scoring Edinburgh's try

Scrum-half Paul Marshall played well to the greasy conditions, chasing Edinburgh back with an array of neat, probing kicks that turned the hosts' back three.

And, when the lively Tom Brown was seized and turned-over yards from his own line, the Ulstermen brought their heavy artillery into action, ending with Reidy's burrowing over the line as Edinburgh's fringe defence was stretched to breaking point.

Minutes later, however, Watson combined brilliantly with back-row colleague Nasi Manu to collect an inside ball from the galloping number eight down the left touchline and finish beyond the cover.

Tonks banged over his third penalty from distance and Edinburgh dealt manfully with Ulster's assaults on the home rearguard.

Fittingly, it was Watson who had the final say when, with the clock red and an Ulster maul rumbling towards the whitewash, the feisty openside brilliantly infiltrated the away pack, sealing off the ball and ending the match.

Team spirit

This was no vintage Edinburgh performance, but perhaps one in the uncompromising image of head coach Alan Solomons, and testament to the unity he has fostered among his playing group.

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons: "It was a massive win for us. It was a very tight game as I thought it would be, a very physical game, but it's a game I thought we deserved to win.

"Hamish (Watson) is a terrific player; I thought he had a terrific game, but I think it was an absolute team effort tonight.

"We're playing strong sides, Ospreys, Leinster, Ulster at home, they're all strong sides and the answer is to get the win."


Edinburgh: Greig Tonks; Tom Brown, Chris Dean, Andries Strauss, Damien Hoyland; Phil Burleigh, Nathan Fowles; Rory Sutherland, Neil Cochrane, John Andress; Anton Bresler, Fraser McKenzie; Mike Coman (capt), Hamish Watson, Nasi Manu.

Replacements: George Turner, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Alex Toolis, Cornell du Preez, Sean Kennedy, Will Helu, Jack Cuthbert.

Ulster: Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Sam Arnold, Stuart McCloskey, Andrew Trimble; Peter Nelson, Paul Marshall; Callum Black, Rob Herring (capt), Wiehahn Herbst; Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe; Roger Wilson, Sean Reidy, Nick Williams

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Bronson Ross, Lewis Stevenson, Willie Faloon, David Shanahan, Ian Humphreys, Rory Scholes.