Ulster play-off hopes in the balance

PA Sport

Ulster's hopes of making the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs look to be over after they fell to their second successive league defeat - a 16-8 loss at home to leaders Leinster, who have already booked their home semi-final.

Only a series of other results going their way can now keep Ulster in with a chance going into the last weekend of games though Brian McLaughlin's men will now have to travel to Thomond Park to replicate their epic European defeat of Munster in their final league clash and even that may not be enough.

Leinster, pretty much at full strength ahead of their own European semi-final away to Clermont with Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Jonathan Sexton in the side, opened the scoring after seven minutes as Eoin Reddan skipped a pass to Sean O'Brien to put Kevin McLaughlin clean through for the score, which Sexton converted.

Ruan Pienaar could then only hit the upright with a 23rd minute penalty but Ulster were able to hit back when a combination of Willie Faloon and Paddy Wallace put Johann Muller into space and the skipper made the line for his first try.

Sexton added a penalty after 29 minutes before Pienaar was successful with one of his own three minutes before the break, but a further Sexton penalty and his second-half drop-goal made the difference for Leinster.

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