Ulster's hopes of a home semi-final in the RaboDirect PRO12 were dealt a blow following their 14-8 defeat to struggling Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
A losing bonus point moved Mark Anscombe's side moved to the top of the table, but a win for either Leinster or Glasgow Warriors at the RDS tomorrow will see them leapfrog the Ulstermen into pole position.
Two penalties from Piers Francis and one from Paddy Jackson meant it was 6-3 at the break. Stuart McInally and Andrew Trimble both scored tries in the second half but three missed penalties from Jackson proved costly as Edinburgh saw out a hard-fought contest.
Edinburgh could have had a try in the game's opening exchanges. Good pressure from the home side resulted in a charge down from Ross Rennie, but Ireland international Trimble was first to the ball and averted the danger.
Francis kicked his first penalty of the night on 16 minutes and doubled Edinburgh's advantage ten minutes before half-time after Jackson was adjudged to have strayed offside.
Jackson got Ulster's first points of the evening a minute before the interval when he slotted a penalty over from distance.
At the start of the second half, Ulster were awarded three penalties in the space of ten minutes. In the swirling wind and difficult conditions, all three were wide of the mark.
They proved costly however, when Edinburgh's Netani Tale burst through tackles and offloaded for his back row colleague McInally to spin over the line.
Ulster's best move of the match came ten minutes later. Michael Allen found space in midfield and popped a superb pass to ful-back Jared Payne. He in turn grubbered through for Trimble who grounded the ball for a well-taken try in the corner.
The conversion was missed, but the try gave the Ulstermen hope that they could get something from the game.
However, Francis landed his third penalty of the night with five minutes remaining in the match. That proved to be enough for the victory and Stevie Scott's men held on for a tight but deserved success.
Ulster, who had led the league standings since September, are now without a win in their last three games - losing to both Glasgow and Edinburgh and drawing with Benetton Treviso.
Next weekend's interprovincial trip to Leinster is hugely important for Anscombe's men, who have been hampered by injuries and international call-ups in recent weeks.
Ulster full-back Jared Payne tries to get away from Edinburgh's Lee Jones during Friday's RaboDirect PRO12 encounter at Murrayfield