URC: Ulster v Edinburgh: pack power lays platform for visitors’ to victory

Capital side secure first win in Belfast since 2018

Robin Hislop scored Edinburgh's third try which sealed a valuable away win over Ulster. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Robin Hislop scored Edinburgh's third try which sealed a valuable away win over Ulster. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Ulster 24

Edinburgh 27

JOHN FALLON at Kingspan Stadium

EDINBURGH’S superb pack laid the foundation for a fifth win of this URC campaign and a first victory in Belfast since 2018.

“Obviously it got close at the end and with the way the log [league table] is we didn’t want to concede a bonus-point, but we’re very happy to get this win away from home,” said victorious coach Sean Everitt. “We knew this game was important, we spoke beforehand about the log positions, and I’m very proud of the guys with the way stuck it out and how hard they worked tonight.

“We spoke about our hard work earlier in the week, we said it can’t be some of the time it has to be all of the time, and I think that let us down a little bit last week which was why that result [against Benetton] didn’t go our way, so I’m just proud of the effort and character that they showed.

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“The attack has got a lot better. It was difficult conditions out there with a wet ball – it was difficult to hold on to the ball and both teams were making handling errors so I’m just proud of Ben [Healy at stand-off], he hasn’t had it all his way over the last two weeks but he tends to bounce back which shows his maturity as a young man.

“I think the guys will take a lot of confidence out of winning away from home, especially in Belfast,” he added. “It is a tough fixture next week [away to Clermont in the European Challenge Cup], a different competition and a breath of fresh air, so we’ll give it everything we’ve got.”

Jamie Ritchie and a brilliant front-row led the charge of this impressive success at Kingspan Stadium where the locals turned out in force to watch double World Cup winner Steven Kitshoff make his home debut.

But while the Springbok won a penalty off compatriot WP Nel at the first scrum, Edinburgh’s front-row of Scottish internationals took control with another South African born loose-head, Pierre Schoeman, crowning a great display with a try.

Ulster went to the right corner with that first penalty and while Edinburgh defended three surges, they conceded another penalty and this time Ulster made it count with hooker Tom Stewart, top scorer in the URC last season, bursting over for his fifth try of this campaign .

But then Edinburgh turned the tide when Nel won a penalty off Kitshoff at the next scrum to help his team, out of their 22 and the Springbok was pinged again at the next scrum as Edinburgh’s all-Scottish international front-row of Schoeman, Ewan Ashman and Nel laid down a firm marker in a fascinating forward battle.

Ben Healy, one of just four players in the league to have played every minute of the season so far, brought his tally to 67 points for the campaign when he drilled the penalty from 40 metres to make it 7-3 after 17 minutes.

And the visitors deservedly hit the front eight minutes later when good yardage down the left by Wes Goosen was worked patiently infield through several hands and scrum-half Ben Vellacott punished slack defending when he sniped over from a ruck when he spotted there was no pillar. Healy’s easy conversion pushed Edinburgh 10-7 ahead.

However, Ulster responded superbly through a familiar route. Jacob Stockdale kicked an excellent 50-22 and Ulster mauled from 20 metres for Stewart to get his second and bring his try haul to 23 in 29 games for Ulster.

John Cooney was unable to convert from the left touchline and Ulster were forced back on the defensive as Edinburgh, with Healy dictating matters through hands and feet, pushed forward. The hosts did well to defend a sustained burst but then lost the line-out from a relieving penalty and this time the Scots did not leave empty-handed, with Healy converting a penalty in front of the posts just before the interval.


James Hume had an Ulster try scratched after Robert Baloucoune was adjudged to have knocked-on while he juggled a pass from Billy Burns and then Edinburgh, with their only attack of the third quarter, pounced to extend their lead. Healy found a good touch down the right and with their front-row now well on top and Ritchie outstanding, they mauled their way forward and then worked it across for Schoeman to crown a fine display to drill his way over. Healy’s conversion made it 20-12 going into the final quarter.

James Lang had a try ruled out for a foot in touch but Edinburgh didn’t relent and with a new front-row continuing their dominance, they got over for the clinching score from another maul with replacement loose-head Robin Hislop scoring and Healy converting to lead 27-12 with ten minutes left.

Baloucoune got over in the right corner to reduce the margin but they finished with 14 men when replacement Ben Moxham was stretchered off with their bench emptied. That didn’t stop them nailing two points at the death when they crossed for their fourth try from James Hume after Harry Paterson was binned, when Edinburgh lost their own line-out in the final play with the clock heading into the red.


Teams – 

Ulster: W Addison (S McCloskey 71); R Baloucoune, J Hume, S McCloskey (S Moore 55), J Stockdale (B Moxham 65); B Burns, J Cooney (N Doak 49); S Kitshoff (A Warwick 60), T Stewart (J Andrew 74), T O’Toole (M Moore 55), A O’Connor, K Treadwell (C Izuchukwu 74), M Rea (J McNabney 55), N Timoney, J McNabney (D Ewers 49).

Edinburgh: T Swiel; H Paterson, M Currie, J Lang, W Goosen; B Healy, B Vellacott (A Price 60); P Schoeman (R Hislop 64), E Ashman (A McBurney 64), WP Nel ( J Sebastian 64), M Sykes, J Hodgson ( G Young, 55), L Crosbie (H Watson 55), J Ritchie, V Mata.

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy).


Scorers –

Ulster: Tries: T Stewart 2, R Baloucoune, Hume; Cons: Cooney, Hume.

Edinburgh: Tries: B Vellacott, P Schoeman, R Hislop; Cons: B Healy 3; Pens: Healy 2.

Scoring sequence (Ulster first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 12-3; 12-8; 12-10; 12-13 (h-t) 12-18; 12-20; 12-25; 12-27; 17-27; 19-27; 24-27; 26-27.


Yellow cards –

Edinburgh: Paterson (77mins)

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  1. And I must comment on the ref … Perhaps our his depth, he should at least know the laws….

    Esp on 60 mins, when awarding the scrum to Ulster after the maul post kick off … 17.6 applies …
    ) Scrum after a maul when catcher is held. If a player catches the ball direct from an opponent’s kick, except from a kick-off or a drop-out, and the player is immediately held by an opponent, a maul may form. Then if the maul remains stationary, stops moving forward for longer than 5 seconds, or if the ball becomes unplayable, and a scrum is ordered, the team of the ball-catcher throws in the ball.’

    • Don’t know if anyone is interested in this stuff, but couple more for discussion ….

      Scrum penalty against Edin on 75 mins, the Ulster players short comes away so the Edin prop can’t get a good bind .. anyone know what the score is on that one?

      Also clear Ulster know on on 77 mins, loses control of the ball that hits the floor ..m knock on, no bonus points

    • wondered about that one myself. Think the explanation given was the maul was not immediately formed because the catcher was lifted by his team mates, then put to ground. News to me, but watched Stade-Toulouse tonight, exact same decision made

  2. Re previous posts re Ritchie. Clearly more effective when not captain. Gregor please take note. Also as 7 last night, might that be his position for Scotland? Hamish and Darge will disagree. But Bradbury or Christie at 6, Dempsey at 8 and Ritchie at 7 looks tasty to me.

  3. Great away from home resilience shown from Edinburgh when the first 10 minutes looked really ominous. Just a shame they couldn’t have kept it going to the whistle and denied Ulster 2 points – that could be important come the end of the season.

  4. Our Scottish pro teams aren’t doing badly at the moment 😊. Obviously things can change. Good to see Harry Paterson coming through, useful game time in the Super 6 last couple years.

    • Similar to Ben Afshar the other night Iain, these guys are looking match-ready as soon as they get their opportunity.

      • Yes it’s making a difference but I fear for its future. Those not involved don’t appreciate how step up from club to part time pro is helping.

  5. Really glad to see Healy silence the few nay-sayers that were around at the time he joined!

    Got to agree re Paterson – looks to have real potential, plus has qualities that belies his size – something you can’t train or buy.

    Tremendous win, which will improve their confidence especially in the last 10 mins of matches….

  6. Hard to pick someone out really, but Richie is so good when concentrating on the ball and not the ref ! deserved MOM Patterson looked like a 30 game vet as opposed to the ref who looked like it was his first game, constantly guessing and random scrum pens given ( can’t believe Schuuhad his man airborne all game but never got a decision) and the Locks haven’t had much word but thought Marshall had a cracker tonight, all in all great result, most importantly the back three put pressure on Darcy and Duhan tonight, and that can only be good for going forward 👍

    • I “love” Duhan but Goosen just confirmed my long held view that he is a seriously good all round player-and I’m not sure I’d drop him unless Duhan can improve on his tackling and workrate.
      Perhaps Paterson could move to fullback if Duhan is back next week and before Bofelli is fit?
      Otherwise too many big performances so I’d highlight the young bucks Currie Sykes and Hodgson who all really came of age last night in what is a pretty hostile environment away from home.
      And WP is just a total legend.Trust Edinburgh will sign him till at least 2040!

  7. Best performance of the season bar the last 10 minutes. Full of commitment, accuracy and discipline. Long list of players who stood up against a good side. Both front rows, Hodgson, Ritchie, Vellacott, Healy, Lang (hugely underrated), Goosen was outstanding and young Patterson. That should be the template going forward. VDM, D’Arcy and Boffelli still to come back. Reproduce that level consistently and Edinburgh start to look a dangerous side. If Glasgow can start playing from the first whistle rather than 20 minutes in we might be in for an exciting season.

  8. Steven Ferris co-commentating when Ulster lose has to be one of the more pleasing scenarios to find yourself in as a viewer.

  9. Exceptional win for Edinburgh against a team who are formidable at home.

    Healy Nel Schoeman were superb, Nel really is a credit to himself, he was fundamental to the victory.
    Hoping Currie gets more game time he looks very promising.
    Forwards really stepped up Hodgson put in an impressive shift.
    Healy is a seriously good rugby player.

  10. I’m not sure what happened with Healy last week. It seemed like he was second guessing everything. Not tonight though. He played with conviction throughout and kept the defence guessing. Very impressive.

    If I was a coach, I would be a little concerned about the last 10 minutes though. Yet another soft try conceded following a restart infringement, followed by a period of real headless chicken stuff when controlling possession was all that was required.

    If we brought Ali Price in for his experience, we can well do without it; his ridiculous kick to nowhere after we had pinched possession in the midfield is exactly the kind of decision that loses close games. Thankfully we had done enough to absorb the inevitable try that followed.

    I am not sure why a team that was so clearly superior suddenly starts playing so conservatively and, in doing so, hands over all the initiative and all but throws away a famous victory.

    • To be fair I think that was a mis-kick, his intention was to run it into the corner which would have been a decent idea ..

  11. That really was heartwarming to finally beat an Irish side away from home and with a great mixture of raw forward power plus some pretty invrentive running.
    Given Kinghorn is leaving and all of Bofelli,Graham and VDM are injured the back three copws adirably-Goosen is really just a bloody good rugby player and young Paterson was not overawed by his international opposite number (perhaps he could cover full back next week if VDM is back?)
    But good to see the likes of Currie and Sykes really upping their games showing wee don’t always need to rely on the “big names”.
    And Healy showed he has an all-round game with some terrific passing .But those two ridiculous goal-line dropouts…what was he thinking!!
    Oh and our two starting props weren’t too bad either..!

  12. Didn’t expect to win that one .. esp after the Bennetton performance, though I didn’t think it was as bad as most thought.

    We managed to dominate them in the third quarter which was fantastic.

    Nice to see a new backline really starting to develop, but with some real quality to come back. That gives me hope when so many will be away with Scotland.

  13. Big, big win for Edinburgh – and after spilling their milk last week against Benetton, this performance showed guts and not a little skill. And it was season-defining if you’re chasing a top-eight finish. Great performances all over the shop. Ritchie was at his scavenging best, while the old hand Nel absolutely took World Cup winner Kitsoff to school in the front row. At the back Goosen and young Harry Paterson show that post-Kinghorn Edinburgh still have options. The latter may be slight, but somehow he beats much bigger men to cross the gain line. Of the new generation, Currie too is showing promise. And barring a couple of nutty goal-line options Healy was immense. He grows in confidence with every performance, not missing a minute of the season and rewarding the faith shown in him by Edinburgh. He must be glad he moved, for getting a regular start has seen his performance grow in leaps and bounds.


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