sport

Ulster battle past Edinburgh

Paddy Jackson kicked Ulster to a 9-3 RaboDirect PRO12 victory over Edinburgh in the final match played on the Murrayfield turf before it is relaid.

Jackson slotted over two penalties in the first half and one in the second to leave Edinburgh with only a losing bonus point while Ulster climbed into second spot.

The rainy conditions were never going to allow flowing rugby and it was inevitable that the first points came from a penalty as a monster kick from Edinburgh No 10 Carl Bezuidenhout from halfway cleared the bar to take the home side into the lead after 14 minutes.

Ulster were having trouble with the sparky Edinburgh backs and their task became no easier after lock Iain Henderson collected a yellow card on 20 minutes, but Edinburgh were unable to take advantage.

Despite being a man short, Ulster muscled their way into kickable territory and, when Edinburgh were again penalised, Jackson had no difficulty in levelling the scores.

The game then developed into a midfield struggle with neither side getting the upper hand, but Edinburgh found themselves consistently frustrated as any momentum they tried to build was hindered by giving away frequent penalties.

Chance

With seven minutes left in the half, Jackson again had a penalty chance and his kick was good to give Ulster the lead. That advantage was almost increased by a third Jackson penalty attempt soon after, but it fell just short. Ulster went in 6-3 up having visited the Edinburgh 22 no more than three times.

The visitors started the second half brightly with Henderson, John Afoa and Roger Wilson taking play into the Edinburgh 22 and, from the almost inevitable penalty, Jackson added another three points to put Ulster 9-3 ahead.

The second half now replicated the first except that it was Ulster who dominated possession and territory with Edinburgh having to defend against remorseless attacks.

They withstood everything Ulster threw at them, however, with Roddy Grant, Cornell du Preeze and Grant Gilchrist performing heroically in defence.

The only respite came when, from a turnover, Nick De Luca slammed the ball deep into Ulster territory but the ball was eventually scrambled away.

As the final whistle loomed, Edinburgh finally strung some passes together, but they were forced to play too much rugby too far from the red zone.

And, to the surprise of no-one, a match which was dominated by the miserable conditions ended with Ulster kicking a penalty into touch.