Pienaar guides Ulster to Twickenham

Date published: April 28 2012

Ulster booked their place in the Heineken Cup Final after putting in a professional showing to beat Edinburgh 22-19 in Dublin on Saturday.

Ulster booked their place in the 2012 Heineken Cup Final after putting in a professional performance to defeat Edinburgh 22-19 on Saturday.

It was a win starring scrum-half Ruan Pienaar, who contributed not only seventeen points but also guided Ulster from minute one in Dublin.

He was backed up by number eight and fellow countryman Pedrie Wannenburg as he scored the game's only try in his last term in the white shirt.

The Ravenhill outfit must now wait to see whether they will face Leinster or Clermont in the final, which will be played at Twickenham on May 19.

On this form though, Ulster will fear neither side as they had a collective steeliness that saw them largely control their own destiny at Aviva Stadium.

Pienaar started the scoring in the sixth minute from the tee but after a good period of possession from the Scottish side, Greig Laidlaw made it 3-3.

Scotland's nuggety back was then on the mark again with a second three-pointer that put his side ahead with twelve minutes played in the Irish captial.

Back came Ulster through their destructive forwards and when Wannenburg went over ten metres to the right of the posts, Pienaar was beginning to show the army of travelling Ulster supporters that the South African was in one of those metronomic moods off the kicking tee.

With Ulster 10-6 up coming up to the half-hour mark, it was looking like being a typically tense semi-final. And things were about to increase thereafter when Stefan Terblanche was yellow carded by referee Romain Poite after he seemed to slap Ross Ford in the face.

Edinburgh could not capitalise on their numerical advantage, however, and in fact only troubled the scorers once the South African veteran returned to the field. That was via the boot of Laidlaw, who made it 13-9 at the interval. A major concern for Ulster was flanker Stephen Ferris hobbling toward the changing rooms with both knees heavily strapped.

Ferris emerged for the second 40 minutes seemingly in good shape as Ulster continued to press home their superiority at the set-piece – a strange throw from Ford to Mike Blair was just one sign that the Ravenhill side were beginning to get under the skin of their rivals.

Laidlaw did cut the gap to just one point though but when Pienaar capitalised on some more sterling work from his pack with three successful kicks, it looked like Ulster's passage to Twickenham was all but assured. But as has been Edinburgh's wont in this competition this season, they did not go down with a whimper as replacement Jim Thompson finished a slick move in added-time, which Laidlaw converted, for the most redundant of consolations.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Try: Wannenburg
Con: Pienaar
Pen: Pienaar 5

For Edinburgh:
Try: Thompson
Con: Laidlaw
Pen: Laidlaw 4

Ulster: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Adam D'Arcy.

Edinburgh: 15 Tom Brown, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw (capt), 9 Mike Blair, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 David Denton, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sean Cox, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Steven Turnbull, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Jim Thompson.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), Pascal Gauzere (France)
Television match official: Giulio De Santis (Italy)