John Andrew scored a hat-trick as Ulster brushed off a spirited Edinburgh fightback to claim an ultimately emphatic seven-try PRO14 victory at BT Murrayfield. The visitors were 19 points up inside 24 minutes, but Edinburgh thought they had levelled when Jamie Farndale crossed in dramatic circumstances following the first two tries of Jack Blain’s career.

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However, Farndale was eventually called offside and Ulster streaked clear in the final quarter. Edinburgh forward Bill Mata’s comeback was interrupted by a spell in the sin bin just after Jordi Murphy crossed for Ulster. John Cooney claimed his second try and Andrew completed his treble in the closing seconds as Ulster sealed a 43-14 Guinness PRO14 victory.

Ulster’s eighth win on the trot sent them top of Conference A. Dan McFarland’s side overturned a 12-point deficit to snatch a last-gasp win at BT Murrayfield in last season’s semi-finals in September, but expectations from the home side were tempered by the unavailability of 23 players through injury and international duty.

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The Akira Ioane/Will Jordan show

Ulster took the lead after two minutes when Stewart Moore crossed following good work from Andrew and Cooney. Andrew went over himself in the 18th minute following a lineout drive and scrum-half Cooney got his first five minutes later after a dummy near the try line following another maul.

Edinburgh’s pack were struggling but they got on top as Richard Cockerill’s side began a major turnaround in  momentum. The hosts put on pressure near the try line and Lee-Roy Atalifo was somehow stopped after throwing himself over a ruck of bodies. But scrum-half Henry Pyrgos changed tack and let the forwards have a go, with Blain crossing in the 34th minute.

Edinburgh started to impress in the scrum and Blain was over again four minutes into the second half after Eroni Sau set him up near the line. Mata came off the bench after 10 weeks out with an ankle injury and the hosts thought they had drawn level in extraordinary circumstances.

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Nathan Chamberlain hit a post from a 40-metre penalty but Farndale scooped up the rebound and went over. However, the full-back was belatedly called offside following a video review after running a metre ahead of Chamberlain when the penalty was taken.

The game turned again in the 59th minute when Murphy went over after another lineout maul and Mata’s yellow card for a lineout offence put Edinburgh up against it. Cooney broke away for his second try following offloads from Ian Madigan and Sam Carter and Ulster set about adding to their tally in ruthless fashion. Andrew scored after another lineout drive before completing his hat-trick in the dying seconds.

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