Ulster’s return to winning ways comes at a cost

Four players all helped from the field in victory over Edinburgh

Ulster’s Iain Henderson goes off injured in the early stages of the Guinness Pro 12 game against Edinburgh. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

Ulster’s Iain Henderson goes off injured in the early stages of the Guinness Pro 12 game against Edinburgh. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

 

Ulster 14 Edinburgh 7

This was just about winning and, for that, Ulster were good for their hard-earned four points at a weather-blasted Kingspan Stadium to get them moving up the table and see them reach fifth ahead of the weekend’s other games.

But this crucial victory came at a potentially huge cost with Iain Henderson, Darren Cave, Dan Tuohy and Peter Nelson all being helped from the field with various problems, though Henderson’s apparent hamstring issue looked deeply worrying for Les Kiss and possibly Joe Schmidt as well.

Ulster had the gale at their backs in the first half and built up a 14-0 lead through a penalty try and a score from Rory Scholes with Paddy Jackson adding both conversions.

It didn’t look as if it would be enough and particularly so with so much reshuffling having to take place throughout the home side – they even lost Roger Wilson prior to kick-off – but Ulster dug very, very deep to get these hugely valuable four points.

Edinburgh just got the one try from Cornell Du Preez, brilliantly converted by Jack Cuthbert, and the home side then butchered at least two scores with Luke Marshall getting over only for the TMO to rule it out due to a block by Chris Henry.

They won ugly but that was of little concern and though things are back on track in the Pro 12 now, Kiss will be reassessing just who he has left for the back-to-back European clashes with Toulouse.

Just four minutes in Henderson ended up in a heap over the Edinburgh line and was taken off in the medical cart with a hamstring injury.

Still, Ulster managed to get some return after watching him leaving the field in some discomfort and from the subsequent lineout, Henry peeled and Ruan Pienaar was illegally held back resulting in a penalty try – their first for nearly two-and-a-half games – being awarded after consultation with the TMO.

Jackson knocked over the conversion just as Cave joined Henderson on the sidelines and shortly.

After Cuthbert was well short into the gale from a rather ambitious penalty attempt, Ulster struck again. This time it was from a scrum – the first of the night had already seen Ulster shunt the Scots back – and Jackson’s off-load to Cave’s replacement Louis Ludik saw the South African feed Scholes, who broke clear to score.

Jackson again converted Scholes’s 10th-minute effort and the home side were 14-0 up without reply.

They could have added to that in the 20th minute after a Henry break off an inside pass from Scholes but, ultimately, Nick Williams – in for Wilson who had suffered a back spasm prior to kick-off – knocked on with the line in sight.

Then, just on the half hour, the game was held up again a Nelson had to also be taken off in the cart with Stuart McCloskey coming on and another reshuffle to the backline seeing Ludik go to fullback.

Scholes was then removed with Paul Marshall covering, though the winger was able to return after undergoing concussion checks.

However, Ulster failed to add to their 14-0 lead before half-time and now had to face into the conditions.

Eight minutes in and Edinburgh got their first score after Phil Burleigh chipped through for Du Preez to get the touchdown in the corner and Cuthbert then added a superb conversion to cut Ulster’s lead to seven.

Ulster needed to respond and McCloskey wriggled over in the 53rd minute but with no obvious view of the ball, referee Ian Davies had to rule the score out after consulting with the TMO.

From the scrum, Clive Ross was held up over the line and Jackson’s subsequent half-break led to nothing as well. Then, just to add to Ulster’s woes, Tuohy was helped off the field forcing John Andrew to come on as a flanker as Ross was now in the secondrow with earlier sub Alan O’Connor.

Ulster kept battering away and finally seemed to have made the breakthrough when Luke Marshall burst through to score in the 71st minute only for the TMO to rule the score out after Henry obstructed a defender.

And that was as close as Ulster got to scoring again as the conditions continued to deteriorate and the game with it.

ULSTER: P Nelson, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, R Scholes, PJackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring, R Lutton, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements: C Ross for Henderson (4 mins), L Ludik for Cave (6 mins), S McCloskey for Nelson (28 mins), P Marshall for Scholes (34-39 mins), W Herbst for Lutton (42 mins), A O’Connor for van der Merwe (58 mins), J Andrew for Touhy (60 mins), A Warwick for McCall (62 mins).

EDINBURGH:J Cuthbert; D Fife, C Dean,M Scott,W Helu; P Burleigh, S Kennedy; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel, A Bresler, A Toolis, M Coman, J Hardie, C DuPreez. Replacements: H Watson for Coman (2428 mins & half-time), N Cochrane for Ford, R Sutherland for Dickinson, J Andress for Nel (all 47 mins), B Kinghorn for Cuthbert (54 mins), N Fowles for Kennedy (55 mins), M Allen for Dean (66 mins).

Referee: IanDavies(Ulster).

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