Belfast Telegraph

That’ll do for starters, says happy Kiss after Ulster tame Cheetahs

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss believes his side still have plenty of building to do even after they tamed the Cheetahs at Kingspan Stadium last night.

In the first game of the new Guinness PRO14 season, and a first game ever for the South African visitors in the competition, Ulster ran in six tries to win 42-19 in an entertaining game that will leave the visitors wondering what might have been without their two yellow cards.

With three new coaches on his staff this season, and three debutants in his starting side, Kiss was pleased with the five-point haul on opening night, but says there is more to come from his side as the year goes on.

“There’s some nice stuff that came through which we’ve been trying to build on but there’s a fair way to go still,” said the Australian.

“To be at Kingspan and show what it means to us was important, and the other big thing for us is that we need to be a better team week in, week out.

“I think our bench came on and did a good job.”

The game was not always as comfortable as the winning margin would suggest, with Ulster scoring four of their tries when yellow cards had the visitors defending with 14 men.

And having actually trailed after the Cheetahs utilised their strikingly quick back three for two first-half scores, Kiss admitted there were a few scares along the way and thinks that the league’s new boys will fare just fine in their first season of northern hemisphere rugby.

“When there was only 13 points in it, and you’re playing a team who can score two converted tries in three minutes, you’re still nervous,” he said.

“It was still a concern to me but we dug in hard and did well.

“You saw what the Cheetahs could do at times and when you talk about world class they had some world class finishers and when you gave them scraps they showed they could stay in the hunt and they hurt us a few times.

“Their pace made me extremely nervous. For the majority we did well, the kick chase where they get a lot of their initial momentum, we did well there.

“We did get a bit narrow at times when they went wide, wide, wide. They just used that speed with Cecil Afrika doing some damage.

“That’s what you’ll be faced with against them. You can’t give them that ball.

“Look, I think if you played them over there first up, it would have been a different story.

“They’ve got Munster next week and they’ll be worried about it for sure. That’s a good team there.”

Ulster travel to Treviso for their second game of the season a week from today and expect to have the Irish international trio of Jacob Stockdale, Kieran Treadwell and Luke Marshall back, but will have to wait and see the severity of a few knocks picked up last night.

“There’s a couple of things,” Kiss added.

“We pulled Charles (Piutau) off, something just tightened on him.

“Kyle (McCall) popped his finger out in the warm-up, but we strapped it up and he went well.

“Marcell (Coetzee) we’re just managing him, he took a bang on the knee but he’s fine.

“Robbie Diack, who I thought put in a massive shift, took a big blow to the hip pointer.

“We’ll have Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale and Kieran Treadwell back.”

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