CELTIC LEAGUE: Friday, March 25Ulster 17 The Borders 13, RavenhillScorers: Ulster: Tries: Andy Ward, Campbell Feather; Cons: Paul Steinmetz 2; Pen: David HumphreysBorders: Try: Chris Cusiter; Con: Charlie Hore; Pen: Hore; Drop gl: Alistair Warnock
Feather came off the bench to help Mark McCall's side to their eighth win of the league campaign - and move them three points clear of Connacht in the race to assume the mantle of third-ranked Irish side.
A poor enough start saw Borders' top scorer Charlie Hore boot a second minute penalty before the bottom-placed Scots lost scrum-half Chris Cusiter to the sin-bin on the quarter-hour.
He was pinged for killing the ball at a close-in ruck and David Humphreys duly levelled things from the resultant penalty.
Despite losing tight-head prop Bruce Douglas to another yellow card on 26 minutes, Steve Bates' visitors continued to press and fly-half Ali Warnock nudged them back in front with a well-taken drop goal.
However it was only a matter of time before something came off for the Ulster backline and skipper Andy Ward - loitering on the left wing - plucked a cross-field kick from centre Paul Steinmetz for a late first half try.
The Kiwi midfielder drew over the touchline conversion too, with Humphreys receiving attention for a leg strain, for a 10-6 home lead at the interval.
A scrappy second half suited the Scots the best and Cusiter silenced the Belfast crowd with a 61st-minute try - set up by his forwards - for Hore to convert for a 13-10 advantage.
Ulster though - unbeaten at home since November - failed to panic and Feather - on as a replacement for Neil Best - muscled his way over three minutes later to aid their ascent up to seventh.
(15) Bryn Cunningham(14) Tommy Bowe(13) Kevin Maggs(12) Paul Steinmetz
Replacements used: Campbell Feather for Best (8 mins), Tim Barker for McCullough (51), Andy Maxwell for Howe (77). Not used: Rory Best, Rod Moore, Neil Doak, Paddy Wallace.
The Borders: Stuart Moffatt; Simon Danielli, Calum MacRae, Charlie Hore, Nikki Walker; Alistair Warnock, Chris Cusiter; Paul Thomson, Ross Ford, Bruce Douglas, Mark Blair, Colin Stewart, John Dalziel, Andy Miller, Kelly Brown. Replacements used: Matt Parr for Thomson (61 mins), Stephen Scott for Dalziel (65). Not used: Tommy McGee, Will Kay, Jonny Weston, Joe Pattison, Gareth Morton.
Sin-bin: Chris Cusiter (15 mins), Bruce Douglas (both Borders) (26)HT: Ulster 10 The Borders 6; Attendance: 7,017Referee: Phil Fear (Wales)