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Ulster first-half blitz enough to see off Edinburgh

Ulster ran in four first-half tries to down Edinburgh Rugby 24-18 despite a spirited second half comeback at the Kingspan Stadium.

The back three of Charles Piutau, Jacob Stockdale and Louis Ludik combined to open up the Edinburgh defence after Magnus Bradbury had powered over for the visitors’ opener.

Stockdale secured the try bonus point before half-time but Edinburgh hit back with a slick score from Damien Hoyland and a late penalty but the damage had been done in the first 40.

The visitors gain a losing bonus point and will rue three missed conversions from fly-half Jason Tovey.

Edinburgh started the quicker with No.8 Bradbury scoring the game’s first try early in the first half, touching down in the corner after several attacking phases.

Ulster gained good field position when the home side were penalised for a high tackle, Paul Marshall snuck over the line under the posts to put Ulster ahead.

Centre Darren Cave touched down minutes later before the scintillating Piutau broke two tackles to offload to full-back Ludik who dive over in the corner.

Stockdale then secured the bonus point before the break as Ulster threatened to run away with it.

But, the visitors managed to respond before the break through hooker Stuart McInally who was on the end of a powerful Edinburgh driving maul to make the score 24-10 at the interval.

Les Kiss will be concerned by the sight of Piutau limping off in the second half after colliding with Edinburgh’s Tom Brown.

The visitors got themselves back into the game midway through the second half after some slick handling from centre Chris Dean released Hoyland to touch down in the corner. Fly-half Tovey failed to convert.

Replacement Sam Hidalgo-Clyne took over kicking duties and landed a long-range penalty to put the visitors within a score 15 minutes from time.

As the players tired, the game began to open up and Edinburgh conceded late penalties on the halfway line to continually lose ground to the home side.

Two minutes from time, Edinburgh winger Brown latched onto a bouncing ball and his side gained 70 metres, threatening the Ulster line only to be penalised.

Ulster held out for a bonus point victory, maintain pressure on the top four, despite not scoring in the second half.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €30 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

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