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Five-star Ulster make for sorry Solomons return

It was an unhappy return to Ravenhill for Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons as James McKinney scored over half of his side’s points to help Ulster to a comfortable 47-17 victory in the RaboDirect PRO12.

Despite falling behind early to Cornell Du Preez’ early try, the home side ran in five tries through Paul Marshall, Robbie Diack, Craig Gilroy (2) and McKinney – the latter maintaining a 100 per cent kicking record with five conversions and three penalties.

Edinburgh, coached by former Ulster chief Solomons, added late tries through Dougie Fife and Grayson Hart but it was not enough to deny a dominant Ulster outfit.

The visitors, aiming to make it three straight RaboDirect PRO12 victories, put the first points on the scoreboard on the quarter-hour mark as Sam Hidalgo-Clyde picked up the ball from the scrum before offloading to Du Preez.

The South African still had some work to do out on the line but he held off the tackle of two Ulster men to drop over in the corner, Harry Leonard missing the conversion to leave the score at 5-0.

The home fans did not have to wait long for a reply however, as referee Neil Hennessy penalised Edinburgh at the scrum five minutes later, leaving McKinney the chance to find his kicking range for the night.

The home side were building up a head of steam, stretching the play from one side to the other and their attacking endeavour paid off just short of the half-hour mark when Gilroy touched down in the corner.

The wing had shown his skill on the ball moments earlier with a dancing run in midfield but he was left with a relatively simple task for the try when a long pass out to the left saw him collect the ball before turning over the line – McKinney adding the extras for a 10-5 lead.

Ulster then had their second try of the night shortly afterwards as centre Darren Cave jinked his way past several tackles before skilfully offloading to Marshall in front of the posts.

The ball bounced off the scrum-half’s knee but bouncing favourably past the line, he gratefully gobbled up the loose ball before McKinney made it 17-5.

Ulster continued to press until the break, and with time ticking past 40 minutes, they again won a penalty from the scrum leaving McKinney to send over his kick for a 20-5 half-time lead.

It took until just past the hour for the Irish outfit to extend their lead through a converted try, as Diack powered through from close range just minutes after Izak van der Westhuizen was sent to the bin for Edinburgh.

And Edinburgh’s misery was compounded two minutes later when Harry Leonard’s pass was intercepted by a grateful Gilroy outside the 22 who then cantered over unopposed for his second try of the night, McKinney again on target from the tee to take it to 34-5.

But not content with having secured the bonus point, Ulster were again celebrating another converted try on 67 minutes when Grayson Hart’s kick was charged down, with the ball eventually recycled for McKinney to cross in the corner.

Edinburgh, back to their full compliment, refused to give in though, and a period of slick passes resulted in Greig Tonks feeding Fife on the wing for a simple run in, Leonard missing the conversion.

And they crossed the whitewash again on 75 minutes as Hart drove towards the line despite Dave Shanahan’s diving tackle – Leonard converting to round off the scoring.

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