Pro12: Edinburgh 28-17 Ulster
|Edinburgh (21) 28|
|Tries: Mata, Hoyland, Bradbury Cons: Tovey 2 Pens: Kinghorn, Weir 2|
|Ulster (3) 17|
|Tries: Cairns, Stockdale Cons: Pienaar 2 Pen: Pienaar|
Edinburgh bounced back from last Friday's shock defeat by Zebre with a fine 28-17 victory over Ulster.
Viliame Mata and Damien Hoyland crossed early in the first half for the hosts, with Blair Kinghorn and Duncan Weir kicking penalties.
Magnus Bradbury raced home after the break, but debutant Aaron Cairns grabbed an opportunist try for Ulster.
Fellow replacement Jacob Stockdale burst over with eight minutes to play, but it proved too little, too late.
Duncan Hodge's side were missing a handful of Test players, denied him at the behest of the Scotland management before next Saturday's Test against Australia, but his absent men were as nothing compared to those shorn from Ulster ranks.
- Friday's other Pro12 reports: Munster 33-0 Ospreys
- NG Dragons 21-16 Connacht
- Treviso 28-34 Cardiff Blues
The visitors had to make do without 11 Ireland internationals and Edinburgh took advantage. They were ahead after three minutes when Mata sauntered through a chasm in the Ulster defence. Tovey, who controlled much of the match at 10, knocked over the conversion.
A second score arrived seven minutes later when Edinburgh's intensity, accuracy and finishing power culminated in the excellent Hoyland scoring. Kinghorn, another big performer, booted a penalty soon after to make it 15-0.
Edinburgh had been ambitious in victory against Harlequins in the Challenge Cup a fortnight ago and then lamentable in defeat against Zebre last weekend. This largely dominant show - Neil Cochrane was outstanding as hooker and stand-in captain - was a response to the embarrassment of the loss to the Italians.
Edinburgh's fans are entitled to ask why their team has to suffer such a wounding loss in order to produce some of the stuff they delivered against the Ulstermen.
Pienaar and Weir - on as temporary replacement for Tovey - kicked penalties before Weir added another just before the break. Edinburgh led 21-3 at half-time, just reward for their dynamism and hunger.
They scored a third try seven minutes into the new half when they attacked off a solid scrum - Edinburgh's impressive starting props Jack Cosgrove, aged 22, and Murray McCallum, aged 20, were relative pups - and Bradbury was put away up the left. Sean Kennedy and Michael Allen helped create it and Bradbury, a serious athlete at 21, ran it in.
Tovey added the conversion to stretch the lead to 28-3. Ulster tried to rally. Tommy Bowe got over the line but was held up. Charles Piutau went over, too, but was deemed to have fumbled forward. A harsh call, that one, perhaps.
With 13 minutes left, Edinburgh's energy tanks emptying and their shape becoming ragged, Cairns struck for Ulster, Pienaar converting from wide out. Then, they scored again. Stockdale cut a gorgeous line off a Rob Herring pass and went all the way to the posts, Pienaar converting once more.
From leading by 25 points it was now an 11-point game. Ulster were the only team in it, but Edinburgh had too much heart - Jamie Ritchie's 17 tackles at open-side make for impressive reading - and too much of a lead to be undone.
Edinburgh acting head coach Duncan Hodge: "It makes last week all the more frustrating. To play like we have done the last five weeks and sandwiched in that to have last week, I'm still pretty annoyed, if I'm being honest.
"We've said all week that last week had to be a lesson for us - tonight we showed how we can and have to play. That performance tonight won't be enough in two weeks' time; that's what we have to think, and we have to keep marching on.
"But those guys should take some plaudits tonight for how they stood up to some world-class Ulster players. We stood toe-to-toe and dominated them in many areas.
"What we now need is that consistency and we've got to eradicate instances like last week.
"There are definitely going to be bigger challenges along the way, but take away some of the technical stuff - if we show some of that application and enthusiasm and intent, that's a great building block."
Edinburgh: B Kinghorn, D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown, J Tovey, S Kennedy; J Cosgrove, N Cochrane (capt), M McCallum, F McKenzie, B Toolis, V Mata, J Ritchie, M Bradbury.
Replacements: S McInally (for Cochrane, 62), K Whyte (for Cosgrove, 70),F Arregui (for McCallum, 58), L Carmichael (for McKenzie, 67), C Du Preez (for Ritchie 33-41, for Mata, 45)), S Hidalgo-Clyne (for Dean, 76), D Weir, M Allen (for Brown, 41), Weir (for Tovey, 23-35, then 67),
Ulster: C Piutau; T Bowe, L Marshall, S Windsor, R Lyttle, B Herron, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (capt), W Herbst, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, P Browne, C Ross, S Reidy.
Replacements: J Andrew, K McCall, A Warwick, R Diack (for Van der Merwe, 41), C Joyce (for Tuohy, 41), P Marshall (for Windsor, 64), A Cairns (for Bowe, 64), J Stockdale (for Herron, 42), Andrew for Herring (72).
Not Used: McCall, Warwick.