Undermanned Edinburgh thought they had unbeaten Ulster on upset alert early in the second half of their Guinness PRO14 meeting at BT Murrayfield but the gap in resources eventually told on the Scottish team.
Down 19-0 after 24 minutes, Edinburgh had rallied to score two tries from young Jack Blain and thought they had a third to take the lead, only for an observant TMO to deny them.
In the end Ulster poured it on in the last 20 minutes with four more tries to give the scoreline a more lopsided look, although there was no question that clearly the better side won.
Wih man of the match Australian Sam Carter and Springbok Marcel Coetzee both prominent for the visitors, the huge gap in resources between the three major Irish provinces and the rest of the PRO14 showed again.
Ulster were missing just six players to international calls compared to 23 for Edinburgh and it was too obvious as the unbeaten Irishmen bludgeoned the home side to three early tries.
They showed some flair with good hands and swift running by forwards and backs working tosplit the Edinburgh defence after just three minutes, centre Stewart Moore scoring under the posts and John Cooney converting.
Edinburgh’s attempts to respond floundered on defensive turnovers and the Ulstermen turned to their driving lineout for two tries in five minutes.
First hooker John Andrew scored as the Edinburgh defensive maul splintered too easily and then Cooney darted in from close range after Edinburgh’s defence around the maul was too passive.
Edinburgh had barely shown anything but displayed fight three minutes before half-time, Chris Dean and James Johnstone combining to make a gap, the forwards driving it on and then Johnstone’s neat pass to Blain, the 20-year-old full-back running a great line to score his first senior try.
Nathan Chamberlain converted and Edinburgh landed a few more physical blows before the break, driving Ulster off scrum ball, and they struck early in the second half.
They opted not to kick an easy penalty in front of the posts, and were rewarded when they went wide and Eroni’s Sau’s pass out of the tackle allowed Blain to score his second try.
Chamberlain converted and then had a penalty chance from 35 metres and hit the left hand post. Jamie Farndale got up to grab the rebound from Ulster hands and score, but was shown to be a yard ahead of the kicker at impact after a TMO check and it was called back.
But a marginal penalty call at a scrum against Edinburgh allowed Ulster the platform to get their maul working again and Jordi Murphy scored off the back, with a yellow card shown to replacement Bill Mata into the bargain.
And Ulster quickly put the game away with their extra man, springing skipper Sam Carter through the middle from Ian Madigan’s off-load and Cooney finishing it off in support.
Two more lineout drive scores from John Andrews in the final minutes completed Ulster’s dominating win.
Edinburgh: Jack Blain; Eroni Sau, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Jamie Farndale; Nathan Chamberlain, Henry Pyrgos (capt); Pierre Schoeman, David Cherry, Lee-Roy Atalifo; Andries Ferreira, Andrew Davidson; Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Ally Miller.
Replacements: Mike Willemse for Cherry 66, Sam Grahamslaw for Schoeman 77, Dan Gamble for Atalifo 69, Jamie Hodgson for Ferreira 61, Bill Mata for Miller 50, Connor Boyle for Crosbie 71, Charlie Shiel for Pyrgos 69, Alec Coombes for Johnstone 70.
Ulster: Michael Lowry; Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle; Ian Madigan, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Marty Moore; Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (capt); Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: Bradley Roberts for Andrew 75, Kyle McCall for Warwick 49, Gareth Milasinovich for Moore 51, David O’Connor for A O’Connor 62, David McCann for Murphy 69, David Shanahan for Cooney 69, Bill Johnston for Madigan 70, Aaron Sexton for Lyttle 8.
Ref: C Evans (WRU)