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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Borders 15-19 Ulster
Ulster skipper Andy Ward in the thick of it at Netherdale
Borders (8) 15
Tries: Sititi, Fairley
Cons: Vili
Pen: Vili
Ulster (8) 19
Tries: S. Best, N. Best
Cons: Humphreys (2)
Drop Goal: Humphreys
Att: 1,200
Title-chasing Ulster were made to work hard for their narrow victory at bottom-of-the-table Borders.

Simon and Neil Best claimed scores for the visitors but the home side matched their try-count, with efforts from Semo Sititi and Iain Fairley.

A very even contest was tied 8-8 at half-time and Borders' Gareth Morton missed three efforts with the boot.

Stand-off David Humphreys had no such problems for Ulster, claiming two conversions and a drop goal.

The visitors raced into the attack and pinned the Scots back inside their danger zone from the first whistle.

And they should have drawn first blood when Tyrone Howe surged clear of the markers - but he paid dearly for a lapse of concentration as the ball slipped from his grasp.

Ulster kept up the pressure and it was no surprise for the crowd when they watched prop Simon Best plough over.

Borders had a penalty opportunity to claw back three points, but Morton's effort drifted off target.

Ulster capitalised on the miss by bagging another three points thanks to a strike by Test stand-off Humphreys.

But the home brigade burst back into the contest when number eight Sititi celebrated his comeback from suspension with a fine try in the wake of clever work by skipper Kevin Utterson.

The fans showed their frustration as Morton was wide with the conversion and a subsequent penalty.

But Tanner Vili took over the kicking duties to land the equaliser on the stroke of the break.

There was little to choose between the sides in the early stages of the second half, but Humphreys bagged a snap drop-goal to edge the visitors back in front.

Neil Best effectively ended the Borders' challenge with the second try before Humphreys added another penalty.

Substitute Fairley gave the Scots late hope with try goaled by Vili, but Ulster held out.

Borders: G Morton, C Moir, J Stuart, K Utterson, A Turnbull, T Vili, G Armstrong, A Johnston, S Scott, B Douglas, S MacLeod, C Stewart, J Dalziel, K Brown, S Sititi
Replacements: R Ford, G Cross, A Davidson, I Fairley, I Berhinussen, S Cranston.

Ulster: B Cunningham; S Young; S Stewart, P Steinmetz, T Howe; D Humphreys, N Doak; S Best, M Sexton, R Moore, G Longwell, R Frost, A Ward, N Best, R Wilson.
Replacements: P Shields, R McCormack, T Barker, N McMillan, K Campbell, P Wallace.

Referee: N Whitehouse (Wales).



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