Ulster cruise past Edinburgh

Date published: October 4 2014

Ulster bounced back from last week’s loss in Italy with a convincing 30-0 win over Edinburgh at the Kingspan Stadium.

Ulster bounced back from last week’s loss in Italy with a convincing 30-0 win over Edinburgh at the Kingspan Stadium.

A brace from Irish flyer, Andrew Trimble, followed by tries from Nick Williams and captain Rory Best, helped a below-par Ulster secure a bonus-point win.

The hosts dominated a flat and uneventful contest. The visitors couldn’t muster a single point in response, but more worrying from their perspective, was the utterly abject nature of the performance. Ulster, for their part, may have put four tries on the scoreboard, but believe me; this wasn’t a match for the purists.

The game began rather scrappily with both sides struggling to retain possession. The hosts attempted to put some width into their game in the opening few minutes, but couldn’t translate possession into coherent plays.

Louis Ludik had a decent chance to open the home account on ten minutes when he gathered a pass from Jared Payne just metres from the line, but knocked on with the whitewash at his mercy.

Paddy Jackson successfully managed to give the hosts a tentative lead three minutes later when he angled a penalty between the posts, making it 3-0 to the Ravenhill men.

Early on, Edinburgh offered very little from an attacking perspective, save for one powerful Tim Visser break down the left wing. Phil Burleigh had a good chance to level proceedings for the visitors on 18 minutes following a clumsy challenge by Jackson on Greig Tonks, but the Edinburgh fly-half misjudged the kick.

By the end of the first quarter, the match certainly wasn’t in danger of winning any awards for entertainment. Jackson, meanwhile, had an opportunity to extend his side’s lead on 22 minutes, but missed the long-range effort.

But the deadlock was finally broken two minutes later when Stuart McCloskey fed Trimble, who eluded Visser to get over in the right hand corner. Jackson converted to make it 10-0.

The Ulster kicker exited the field just moments later to avail of the blood bin, making way for youngster, Stuart Olding.

As the match meandered uneventfully towards the interval, this was undoubtedly a game very much in need of some spark and impetus. The reinstated Jackson did get on the scoreboard on the 40 minute mark to make it 13-0, but such was the dearth of attacking rugby there was a palpable sense of relief when Claudio Blessano blew the whistle for half time.

The second half started in much the same vein, with the match failing to exhibit any sort of sparkle. In fairness to the hosts, they attempted to increase their tempo markedly from the first period, but still struggled to achieve any degree of continuity or rhythm.

It wasn’t that the hosts weren’t expending a fair degree of sweat or endeavour (they were), but the match was much flatter and uninspiring that we’ve come to expect from these Pro12 match-ups.

The game did secure a much-needed shot in the arm on 61 minutes when replacement number eight Williams barrelled over from close range to score Ulster’s second try. Jackson was uncharacteristically off-target with the extra points, however, to leave the score 18-0.

And Ulster hammered home their ascendancy on 68 minutes when skipper Best touched down in the left hand corner. Olding converted this time to give the hosts a substantial 25-0 advantage.

The Scottish visitors were now playing for pride, and a modicum of respectability.

While Ulster will have been happy to put their opponents to the sword, the lack of any discernible structure from the Scottish outfit was frankly quite concerning. To be frank, Ulster managed to achieve overwhelming levels of superiority in this game without ever getting out of second gear, or even playing particularly well.

By the end, the Scottish district was looking pretty demoralised, and dishevelled. And the visitors’ misery was compounded on 78 minutes when Paul Marshall picked up at the base, and put Trimble over for his double with a simple ‘skip one’ pass. Olding again missed the conversion, but it scarcely mattered.

This was not a contest that will live long in the memory of this writer. In the end, the Ravenhill men will be happy with the bonus-point win, if not the standard of performance. For a sorry Edinburgh, it’s back to the drawing board.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries: Trimble 2, Williams, Best
Conversions: Jackson, Olding
Penalties: Jackson 2

For Edinburgh:
Yellow Cards: Coman

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Stuart McCIoskey, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Ruaidhri Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Darren Cave

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nell, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Nick McLennan.

Referee: Claudio Blessano (FIR, 7th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Brian MacNeice (both IRFU)

By Rory McGimpsey