Ulster 22 Edinburgh 19: Ruan Pienaar scores 17 points on way to victory

Ulster 22 Edinburgh 19: Pienaar makes Scottish side pay penalty

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UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 28 April 2012

The cry is usually ‘stand up for the Ulstermen’, but fans were toasting a man from Bloemfontein as Ruan Pienaar produced a goal-kicking masterclass that powered his side to the Heineken Cup final.

The former Springbok half-back, who started two Tests against the British & Irish Lions at fly-half in 2009, claimed 17 points from six attempts, as Ulster kept alive their dream of securing a second European Cup triumph.

Semi heroes: Pedrie Wannenburg and Ruan Pienaar of Ulster celebrate after winning the Heineken Cup semi final

Semi heroes: Pedrie Wannenburg and Ruan Pienaar of Ulster celebrate after winning the Heineken Cup semi final

Man-of-the-match Pienaar, playing in
his preferred position of scrum-half, pulled the strings superbly as
Ulster beat an Edinburgh side that lacked nothing in commitment but,
like Scotland in the Six Nations, were found wanting in attacking
finesse.

Pienaar purred throughout like a
Rolls- Royce and, in tandem with his fellow South African recruits
Pedrie Wannenburg and Stefan Terblanche, had too much nous for an
Edinburgh side playing in their first Heineken Cup semi final.

Kicking for glory: Ruan Pienaar scored 17 points for Ulster

Kicking for glory: Ruan Pienaar scored 17 points for Ulster

Terblanche provided the only blot on
his side’s copybook when he was sin-binned for a petulant slap on Ross
Ford in the first half.

In howling winds, Pienaar slotted
every chance that came his way with a regal calm that spread throughout
his side, while Wannenburg’s 16th-minute try setUlster on their way to
victory.

‘It was an exceptionally tough game
but we took our chances and were ruthless in the first half,’ said
Ulster head coach Brian McGlaughlin. Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw
kicked 14 points, while Jim Thompson scored a late consolation try.

Charging down: Pienaar sees an attempt at his kick charged down by Edinburgh's Roddy Grant

Charging down: Pienaar sees an attempt at his kick charged down by Edinburgh's Roddy Grant

Ulster’s victory makes the prospect of
an all- Irish final a tantalising reality ahead of today’s semi-final
between Clermont Auvergne and Leinster.

The crucial spell of last night’s game
came before half-time when Edinburgh were unable to take advantage of
Terblanche’s absence as they battered away at the Ulster line but failed
to cross for the all-important try.

‘We’re bitterly disappointed,’ said Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley. ‘We had chances but failed to take them.’

Ulster celebrated at the end as if
they had won the entire tournament. If Pienaar and Co produce another
performance like this at Twickenham on May 19, they may well do just
that.