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Expectations on rise as slick Ulster hit summit


By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss was happy to see his much-changed side have little trouble in slaying the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium last night but warned that his side's strong start to the season guarantees them nothing.

Having taken the chance to rest a handful of regulars, Kiss's side still ran in eight tries against the Welsh visitors to win 52-25 to win their fourth of the season and take over top spot in the PRO14's Conference B.

And with a trip to winless Zebre to come next week, the province will expect to solidify their grasp on first place next week, but Kiss has stressed his squad must keep their feet on the ground.

Having won five games to start last season, the Australian has demanded there be no repeat this time around.

"It's better to be top than not top I suppose," he said. "It's similar to last year though, and that didn't get us anything. Scarlets who won the thing were near the bottom this time last year. It guarantees you nothing.

"Lessons from the past can be good. If we want to keep things going then we have to work hard when it matters which is Monday and Tuesday.

"We need to do all we need to make sure we prepare completely."

Ulster coach Kiss added: "We're doing that pretty well at the minute but we haven't worked on all parts of our games fully. We're putting new things together and the boys are responding to it.

"The main thing is that we had a good preparation, we need the same next week.

"They can be sticky there, they have been for us over there in the past.

"Other results will happen but we don't want to be the ones that go wrong over there."

While British and Irish Lion Iain Henderson was able to make his first appearance of the season from the bench, and Charles Piutau was back after a hamstring injury, Ulster also handed first starts of the campaign to the likes Rodney Ah You, Darren Cave, Paul Marshall and Pete Nelson with Kiss happy to see many usually outside his first-choice side play their part in such a comprehensive win.

"We made some changes, brought in players in place of one or two that could have played," Kiss said. "We made nine or 10 changes.

"We asked those guys to stand up and deliver on the standards that we'd been setting. It was very pleasing that they went out there and when we needed to be clinical we were.

"We stretched the scoreline, even though we left a few out there. We scored regularly through the game even though I would have liked one later on to just tidy things up.

"The guys were focused on how they went about their business and got the reward.

"There's work-ons but I think it's important that the group recognise that if we prepare well, understand what we're doing, and stick to the plan then you can achieve things."

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