Edinburgh 31 Ulster 34
Ian Madigan repeated his Murrayfield heroics as he nailed another last-minute kick to hand Ulster a dramatic 34-31 victory over Edinburgh.
The outhalf broke the Scottish side’s hearts back in August as he booted his side into last year’s Pro14 final with a nerveless stoppage-time effort. And he was required to do it all over again as Dan McFarland’s men climbed off the bottom of the Rainbow Cup table after a 10-try thriller.
Edinburgh were ahead early thanks to Duhan Van Der Merwe’s 32nd and final try for Edinburgh before the British and Irish Lion joins Worcester next season.
Blair Kinghorn added another for the capital club but Ulster stormed back with touchdowns from James Hume, Iain Henderson, Stuart McCloskey, Adam McBurney — who will join Edinburgh in a few weeks' time — and Rob Lyttle.
However, Edinburgh came back themselves and thought they had won it when Eroni Sau's controversial late try was allowed to stand by referee Ben Whitehouse after scores from Pierre Schoeman and Cammy Hutchison had fired the hosts back into contention.
But when Kinghorn missed a chance to win it with his conversion, the Irishmen raced up field to win a penalty — with Madigan showing the Scotland international how it was done.
Edinburgh — who survived a Covid scare earlier this week — could not have wished for a better start as they played their final game at Murrayfield before moving to a smaller arena next door.
Kinghorn released Van der Merwe to score the opener before galloping home himself soon after as Richard Cockerill’s side moved 12 points ahead inside eight minutes.
Ulster hit back after 13 minutes as Madigan’s dancing feet cut Edinburgh open before Hume finished things off. But Kinghorn’s crazy offload attempt five metres from his own line sent Edinburgh into a tailspin.
Hamish Watson was penalised with a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on as he attempted to rectify his Scotland team-mate's blunder.
Henderson’s strength allowed him to dot the ball down as Ulster careered towards the Edinburgh line from a line-out drive.
To make matters worse for the hosts, WP Nel was also sin-binned for his illegal efforts to collapse the maul. Inside two chaotic minutes, Edinburgh had lost two men and seven points.
They did well to stem the tide with 13 men. However, with just seconds remaining before they returned to their full complement, McCloskey charged over from halfway after a rapid exchange of passes by Hume and David Shanahan.
Hooker McBurney refused to go easy on his future team-mates, crashing over from another lineout move a minute before the break as the visitors added another score.
Ulster extended their lead further with a sublime try that saw them explode wide through a succession of quick, intricate passes, with Lyttle left to jog over in the 50th minute.
But when the Irish province found themselves down to 13 as Michael Lowry and Nick Timoney were sent to the bin in short succession, Schoeman and Hutchison barged over to give Edinburgh hope.
They thought they had completed the turnaround when Sau raced in to score with a minute left despite Harri Morris’ high tackle on Lowry. But Kinghorn’s miss gave Madigan his chance to reprise his role as Ulster’s last-action hero.