|Tries: Healy, Russell, Sheehan Cons: Prendergast 2, Byrne
|Tries: Timoney 2, Stockdale Cons: Cooney 2 Pens: Cooney
Ulster claimed a famous win at the RDS as they beat Leinster 21-22 in a pulsating United Rugby Championship contest in Dublin.
Ulster raced ahead with tries from Nick Timoney and Jacob Stockdale, but Leinster fought back to level.
Another try from Timoney gave Ulster a 19-14 at the break and they survived relentless Leinster pressure in the second half to hold on for the win.
It is Dan McFarland's side third successive victory.
After a scrappy start to the game as both sides got to grips with the tough conditions at a rain-soaked RDS, Ulster raced into an early lead after just five minutes.
Billy Burns found Timoney with a well-timed chip kick and he powered past a number of challenges before touching down.
John Cooney added the extras with a close-range conversion.
Three minutes later, Dan McFarland's in-form side scored a second try, with Burns, who was making his return from injury having missed the last two games, again at the heart of it.
After patient play, Ulster recycled the ball to Burns, who then kicked wide to Stockdale to slide over the line.
Cooney was unsuccessful with the conversion from a tight angle.
Leinster, who had made a raft of changes from the side who beat Munster on Boxing Day, grew into the game after their slow start and registered their first try on 12 minutes.
Leo Cullen's side went through multiple phases but were met by a stubborn Ulster defence, before their pressure eventually paid off as Cian Healy managed to get over the line.
Sam Prendergast, playing in his first interprovincial game, landed the conversion.
The home side thought they had drawn level on 17 minutes when Will Connors darted over from the maul, but the try was disallowed for an obstruction by Thomas Clarkson.
Leinster's relentless pressure in the Ulster 22 did see them go ahead for the first time in the game on 24 minutes in rather fortuitous circumstances.
Jamison Gibson-Park broke away from the ruck and saw his chip kick come off the crossbar. It then bounced favourably to Prendergast and he offloaded to Ciaran Frawley, who worked it out to the on-rushing Russell to race over.
Prendergast added the extras with a fine conversion from the left touchline.
Ulster, who went over 10 minutes without entering the Leinster 22 during a tough spell midway through the half, went back in front with a clinical breakaway against the run of play.
A loose ball fell to Burns, who kicked cross-field to Timoney to score his second and Ulster's third try on 36 minutes.
It was the 28-year old's fifth try in his last three games as the northern province went in ahead at the break.Burns played a crucial role in all three of Ulster's tries as he returned after missing the last two games with a bicep injury
After a breathless opening to the game, it was a much quieter start to the second half as conditions worsened with the torrential rain.
The first score of the second period arrived on 56 minutes with a long-range Cooney penalty, but from then on it was one-way traffic from Leinster, with Ulster having to dig deep defensively.
Leinster's third try of the game arrived just after the hour mark as Sheehan bundled his way over from the maul after Ross Moloney had won the lineout.
Harry Byrne added the conversion with a fine kick to bring Leinster back within one point of Ulster.
The last 10 minutes of the contest saw Ulster repel multiple attempts from Leinster to get over the line, as they held on to start 2024 with a statement victory which moves them up to fourth in the URC table.
Ulster: Addison, Baloucoune, Marshall, McCloskey, Stockdale, Burns, Cooney, Kitshoff, Herring, O'Toole, Treadwell, Henderson, Rea, Reffell, Timoney.
Replacements: Stewart, Warwick, Wilson, O'Connor, Ewers, Doak, Lowry, Postlethwaite.
Leinster: Frawley, T O'Brien, Turner, Henshaw, Russell, Prendergast, Gibson-Park, Healy, Sheehan, Clarkson, Jenkins, McCarthy, Baird, Connors, Doris.
Replacements: Barron, Boyle, Ala'alatoa, R Moloney, Conan, McGrath, Byrne, van der Flier.