The return of Ulster's Irish internationals proved too much for Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday, as the Irish province recorded a vital 42-20 Pro12 victory on the road.
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin admitted it was a "very important" result, as Ulster moved up to fifth place on the standings - at least for now.
Tries from Rory Best and Andrew Trimble added to one apiece from Dan Tuohy and Darren Cave sealed the win.
"We had a great finish to 2011 last Friday against Munster and we're delighted to start 2012 in much the same way," McLaughlin said.
"We've had our problems at Murrayfield in the past and yes, we were a little inconsistent at times but all in all it was an excellent victory for us.
"We gifted them their two tries but generally, our defence was outstanding - this was one of our best defensive performances all so season, we can take a lot of confidence from that as we now look towards the visit of the Tigers and what is going to be a huge night at Ravenhill on Friday in the Heineken Cup.
"This was very important in the context of the Pro12 and keeping ourselves in mix for place in the knockout stages come the end of the season, but it was also important in view of next week's match to get everyone back together after an unsettled period over Christmas."
In the other Friday fixture Newport Gwent Dragons caused an upset when they edged past Welsh rivals and second-placed Ospreys 21-20.
Edinburgh 20-42 Ulster
Ulster's returning Irish international cavalry had a dramatic effect as they ran in four tries against Edinburgh in their 42-20 victory and force their way up to fifth in the Pro12 standings.
A dominant second half saw the visitors cross the whitewash twice through Andrew Trimble and Darren Cave, to add to first-half efforts from Rory Best and Johann Muller, and see off an unfamiliar Edinburgh side.
Gunners coach Michael Bradley opted for a reshuffle, with stand-off Phil Godman and No.8 Stuart McInally the only players to retain their places following the 17-12 defeat by Glasgow Warriors on New Year's Day.
Ulster, who welcomed back Ireland quartet Trimble, Best, Stephen Ferris and Tom Court took an early lead through Ian Humphreys' fourth minute penalty, and eight minutes later he kicked the visitors six points ahead before being taken off with a serious-looking injury.
Edinburgh responded though through Scotland international Nick De Luca, who pounced on a loose ball to go over on 13 minutes with Godman adding the extras.
A Greig Laidlaw penalty four minutes later extended Edinburgh's advantage but that was as good as it got as Ulster turned the screw.
South African scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, who took over kicking duties from the unfortunate Humphreys, brought the Ulstermen within a point with a penalty of his own on 20 minutes.
Eight minutes later Best gave the visitors a deserved lead with a well taken try and then, almost immediately, Dan Tuohy crossed the whitewash. Pienaar was wasteful with the boot on both occasions to leave the score 19-10.
Just as Ulster appeared to be heading into the break with a comfortable lead, a needless penalty allowed Laidlaw to reduce the Gunners' arrears to six points.
The Ulstermen, though, dominated proceedings after the interval, and with Pienaar finding his kicking boots, they quickly amassed an unassailable lead.
His penalty on 46 minutes was quickly followed by Trimble's try, and when the South African added his conversion and another penalty, the score was 32-13 and out of Edinburgh's reach.
Alun Walker barged his way over to give the home side hope but Cave's late try, after great work on the counter attack by Paul Marshall, gave Ulster the decisive bonus-point before Pienaar added another three points with a late penalty.
Tries: De Luca, Walker
Cons: Godman, Laidlaw
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Tries: Best, Tuohy, Trimble, Cave
Cons: Pienaar 2
Pens: Humphreys 2, Pienaar 4
Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 James King, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain) 8 Netani Talei, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Esteban Lozada, 4 Sean Cox, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Alan MacDonald, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Matt Scott, 23 Jim Thompson.
Ulster: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Paddy Wallace, 23 Adam D'Arcy.
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant referees: Rob Dickson, Archie McInally (both Scotland)
Newport Gwent Dragons 21-20 Ospreys
Dan Biggar crashed a last-minute drop-goal against the upright as Newport Gwent Dragons edged past Welsh rivals Ospreys 21-20 for their first Pro12 victory since September.
Second-half tries from Martyn Thomas and Lewis Robling gave the Dragons the initiative with fly-half Jason Tovey kicking 11 points in a full-blooded encounter.
The hosts had their noses in front for most of the match but four penalties from Matthew Morgan kept the Ospreys in touch before Tommy Bowe's try set up a grandstand finish in which Biggar twice missed a chance to win the bragging rights with an off target conversion and drop-goal.
Ospreys head coach Sean Holley made ten changes to the side that downed Cardiff on New Year's Day while for Dragons hooker Lloyd Burns pulled out late with illness and was replaced by Steve Jones.
The Dragons, captained by blind side flanker Danny Lydiate for the first time, took the lead in the ninth minute through Tovey, who made no mistake with an early penalty.
The Ospreys cause went from bad to worse when Ian Evans was sin-binned for coming over the top, but Tovey failed to increase the Dragons' advantage from close-range on 12 minutes - but the Wales U20 international made amends two minutes later from a similar position.
Opposing flyhalf Morgan, who drifted a sixth minute penalty wide, then restored parity for the Ospreys with kicks in the 25th and 34th minutes in what was proving to be a cagey first half at Rodney Parade.
In a pulsating end to the half though, both sides were reduced to 14 men when firstly Dragons winger Tonderai Chavhanga and then Ospreys' Tom Smith were sent to the sin bin, before Tovey sent over his third penalty of the half to give the hosts a 9-6 lead at the break.
Not to be outdone, Morgan fired over his third penalty five minutes after the restart but almost immediately Dragons' full-back Thomas grabbed the game's first try, going over in the right corner after a half-break from Tovey exposed the space in the Ospreys defence.
Tovey pulled the conversion wide, but two minutes later a poor Morgan pass presented the ball straight to Dragons substitute Robling, who ran unchallenged from 40 metres to touch down underneath the posts. Tovey added the extras for a 21-9 lead.
With the game slipping away, Ospreys coach Scott Johnson brought some of his big guns off the bench, with Huw Bennett, Duncan Jones and Rhys Webb all joining the fray.
It took immediate effect, with Morgan sending over a long-range penalty after good work by the forwards, with his replacement Biggar adding another three points just after the hour mark to bring the Ospreys within one score.
They got that score, as Biggar, whose pass looked suspiciously forward, fed Bowe to power over seven minutes from time but the outside half missed the conversion before his dramatic drop goal attempt came back off the post.
Tries: Thomas, Robling
Pens: Tovey 3
Pens: Morgan 4, Biggar
Yellow cards: Ian Evans (Ospreys, 12), Tonderai Chavhanga (Dragons, 39), Tom Smith (Ospreys, 40)
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Will Harries, 13 Aled Brew, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Lewis Evans, 6 Danny Lydiate (captain), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Lloyd Burns, 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Dan Way, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Darren Waters, 21 Joe Bedford, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Matthew Jones.
Ospreys: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Eli Walker, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Tom Smith, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Paul James, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 George Stowers, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Tommy Bowe.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris, Wayne Davies (both Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
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