Published Saturday, 28 April 2012
Ulster's Andrew Trimble is tackled by Edinburgh's Tim Visser. (© Getty)
Ruan Pienaar landed five penalties and a conversion and Pedrie Wannenburgh weighed in with a try as Brian McLaughlin's side out-muscled a vibrant and determined Edinburgh side who pushed them every inch of the way in Dublin.
Buoyed by a huge traveling support of some 40,000 supporters, Ulster struck first when their south African out-half landed a monster penalty from well inside his own half, but the Scottish outfit hit back with two kicks from Greig Laidlaw.
With Edinburgh playing some sharp, incisive rugby, Ulster found themselves relying on their scrum to make an impact, with Declan Fitzpatrick deputising superbly for the suspended John Afoa.
It was from the set-piece that Ulster breached their opponents' defence, with Wannenburgh powering over after picking up from the base of the scrum, although Edinburgh protested that the ball had already come out.
Edinburgh ramped up the pressure for the remainder of the opening period, and Ulster were left hanging on for the final ten minutes of the half when Stefan Terblanche was yellow-carded for striking Ross Ford at a ruck.
However, the Scots failed to capitalise, and Pienaar and Laidlaw exchanged penalties to send Ulster in four points up at the half-time whistle.
A fourth penalty from Laidlaw minutes after the restart left just a single point between the sides, but Ulster piled on the pressure in search of a try to kill the game.
After turning down a trio of kicking opportunities in pursuit of a touchdown, Pienaar eventually opted for the posts in the 57th minute to give his side a little breathing space, before landing another six minutes later.
Another kick at goal four minutes from time put a 10 point margin between the sides but Edinburgh, to their credit, refused to admit defeat and scored a deserved try in stoppage time through Jim Thompson.
Laidlaw added the extras but there was no time for the restart as Ulster booked their place at Twickenham for the final on 19 May.
Brian McLaughlin's side will face the winners of the second semi-final between defending champions Leinster or French outfit Clermont Auvergne in Bordeaux on Sunday.