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Kiss hails his Ulster players after much-needed PRO12 victory

Guinness Pro12 League

By Michael Sadlier

Coach Les Kiss hailed the superb contribution of Springbok Marcell Coetzee on his long awaited Ulster debut as the province racked up a critical 24-18 victory over Edinburgh at Kingspan last night - their first win of 2017 after four straight defeats. Kiwi Charles Piutau also came in for praise.

It was just what Ulster needed. A bonus point win and a game which saw their two marquee signings finally playing together and showing their star quality.

Ulster scored four first half tries from Paul Marshall, Darren Cave, Louis Ludik and Jacob Stockdale to keep their PRO12 season heading in the right direction.

"It's our first win for a while so we're absolutely happy with it," said a relieved Kiss, though he expressed his disappointment at Ulster failing to score in the second half and allowing Edinburgh to dangerously get within eight points.

"Marcell had a cracking game," he said. "I thought he put some really dominant carries in which make a difference and helped the whole back row.

"To tell you the truth I thought 10 months out of the game (with an ACL injury) that Marcell might be rustier than that but he was on the money and just kept putting his hand up to carry the ball and I thought he was brilliant.

"Charles had some real good touches and his piece of skill down the left side (for Ludik's try) was beautiful."

Neither Coetzee nor Piutau finished the game with the South African coming off after an hour while Piutau worryingly hobbled off with a lower leg issue after 49 minutes though it is hoped he will be fit to face Glasgow at the Kingspan on Saturday.

Kiss also praised the performances of Peter Nelson and Stuart Olding. Nelson played his first Ulster game since December 2015 and came through well.

"The first half when we put good things together we were fairly impressive and some of the play we put together was really good," he said.

"After half-time we just didn't execute - we were dominating things but we weren't opening them up and I thought we were a little bit dumb at times.

"There were plenty of pleasing things from the game," said Kiss.

"And we didn't lose it and stayed strong. We had to get the win and that was the key.

The five points keep Ulster in sixth, now just three points behind Glasgow Warriors who they host next Saturday.

Darren Cave and Alan O'Connor picked up knocks which make them doubts for the game.

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