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Ulster coach Les Kiss delighted with leap in form

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss has hailed the progress made by the squad during his short tenure at the Kingspan Stadium after the province overcame Connacht 10-3 on Saturday to seal their fourth win in a row.

A game that had seemed set to end in a draw was settled by a 77th minute Nick Williams score as Ulster became the first side to win at the Sportsground this season and hauled themselves back into the PRO12's play-off places.

Having also ended Toulouse's proud home winning streak a week ago, Kiss praised his side's new-found ability to grind out wins on the road.

"To beat Connacht here is always a very tough ask, especially how they've been going, but also on the back of a very good away win last week against Toulouse.

"They were two teams who haven't been beaten at home all year but we found what was necessary.

"It has been good for us but it's important we also recognise why this is happening. We're trying to grow every day and every week.

"There's a great appetite from the players to work on the tactical shifts that have been made and to build more resilience and more composure in the key moments.

"At the moment you have to be pleased that we're delivering that."

Having won five of his seven games in charge, former Ireland assistant Kiss has said there is still plenty of room for improvement.

"We're not perfect by any means, our breakdown work tonight wasn't where it needs to be and there's a couple of areas we need to keep working on.

"Overall to manage a game like that and get the win though, you've got to be happy.

"After Ospreys won (against league-leaders Scarlets) earlier in the day, we wanted to put pressure on the Pro12 ladder like we did in Europe the last two weeks.

"The areas that we're not perfect in we have to keep working on."

Ulster surrendered plenty of possession and territory but, after allowing only an AJ MacGinty penalty over the 80 minutes, have conceded just 30 points in their last four league games.

"We can't give up as much ball as we did in the first quarter because that tests all parts of your game and your attitude but defensively the boys were brilliant," reflected the Australian.

"We scrambled well for each other and the defence in that first 15-20 minutes was crucial for us."

With Munster to come at home on Saturday, Kiss should have his rested captain Rory Best back, as well as fellow international forward Chris Henry, but hinted that he may need to rotate his panel ahead of the following week's return to Europe.

"Chris was close this week but it's a case of managing it. It's nothing major but there was no need to push it. He should be fine for next week.

"We'll manage the minutes as necessary.

"I don't think we have any major injuries, there are a couple of bruises, but we should have a full lot to pick from.

"We need to manage the resources because there are a lot of players who have had to play every week because of some of the injuries we have but they're doing a great job."

Belfast Telegraph


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