Belfast Telegraph

Kiss: Ulster showed true grit against Wasps

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss hailed the character of his side after they battled their way to a 19-9 Euro win over Wasps at Kingspan Stadium last night.

Starting their Pool 1 campaign with a crucial victory, the hosts had to battle back for another second-half comeback, this time through tries from Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey, while late Christian Leali'ifano penalties ensured Wasps didn't leave with a bonus point.

"It was massive for us to be at Kingspan and play a team like Wasps," said Kiss.

"We didn't play exceptionally well but we showed real character and toughness.

"We were able to get some momentum and make some smarter decisions in the second-half. It's a massive victory. It's always tough in Europe, those games don't always flow, you don't always have those moments of magic. We had to tough out big moments and withstand some pressure.

"It challenged our attitude and challenged our character but we stood up to it.

"We had to do the right things at the right times and we did that in the end.

"We made that pressure count. This will be a tight pool so it was important to keep them out at the end and deny them that one point."

With the confirmation that back-rower Marcell Coetzee will miss another nine months after making just five appearances for Ulster since his 2016 move, the province were also forced to witness the worrying sight of No.8 Jean Deysel leaving the field seemingly requiring support for his shoulder.

With flanker Chris Henry also out of action last night, Kiss (below) played down fears of a loose forward injury crisis ahead of next week's trip to face La Rochelle.

"I think he (Deysel) will be fine," the Aussie said.

"He has just had a stinger and a slight episode during the week and it came the time when we had to replace him.

"Chris should be fine, he had the throat cartilage fractured, I think he feels comfortable.

"He will see a specialist this week and then he will be back in play.

"We have had to balance it up and there's a bit of uncertainty where it goes.

"Nick Timoney is out for another six weeks but we have a number of back rowers playing (today) in the 'A' game and we are going to have to make sure that we find the right resources there.

"At the moment I think Jean is doing a good job but we cannot play him into the ground, we know (Sean) Reidy can cover eight, we have got Clive (Ross) sitting there and Matty Rea who did not get a chance there (last night).

"But we know we have some options there, certainly going forward we just have to make sure we get the right combination."

Despite the cruel blow of another lengthy spell without Coetzee, their star Springbok import, Kiss stated there are no immediate plans to make a move for a replacement.

"It's been tough for Marcell and we've worked hard to try and get the best result for him and that's ended up being surgery," he added.

"He won't be around for eight or nine months in terms of playing but we'll stick by him. He's here and he has a contract with us so we'll stick by him.

"We won't look at (anyone else) at this stage."

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