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Ulster hoping hat-trick hero Gilroy dazzles against Warriors

By Michael Sadlier

Halting their four-game losing run against Edinburgh was one thing, but now Ulster just have to back it up by banking a lengthy collection of positive results.

And when it comes to the feel-good factor, it hardly gets much better than getting Craig Gilroy back again, after his dazzling hat-trick of tries for Ireland in Rome, as the winger has been released by Joe Schmidt to feature for Ulster ahead of Saturday's Kingspan clash with Glasgow Warriors (kick-off 3pm).

While Gilroy returns following his impressive cameo in the thumping win over Italy, Andrew Trimble, who has yet to play in the Six Nations, has been retained by Schmidt this week, suggesting that he may well get the nod against France.

Ulster might be further boosted as Ruan Pienaar could also be playing after undergoing knee surgery in the wake of the New Year's Eve loss at Leinster, the game which began the run of four defeats which was ended last Friday with the bonus point result over Edinburgh.

Kiss's hand, though, has further been strengthened as Luke Marshall is also available for the province, after being retained by Schmidt for the first two Six Nations games but not featuring in the match day squads, while Tommy Bowe and Stuart McCloskey - who benched against Edinburgh - will be available again for Ulster.

The impressive Marcell Coetzee is good to go for a second run-out after his big impact debut while hooker Rob Herring could also be seen against Glasgow after not featuring since Leinster due to a knee injury.

Kiss was remaining upbeat on Charles Piutau's lower leg injury, which the Kiwi shipped last Friday, but the knocks to Darren Cave, who is undergoing HIA return to play protocols and has a hamstring strain, and Alan O'Connor (shoulder) are cause for concern.

Loose-head prop Andy Warwick's shoulder issue is a particular worry with little in the way of cover available.

However, Stuart Olding - who played his first game since October last Friday night - is sidelined again with an elbow injury and will not feature against the Warriors as sixth-placed Ulster go up against the side who are one spot above them.

As Ulster bid to put together their first back-to-back victories since early December - when they followed up a PRO12 bonus point result at Cardiff Blues with that memorable European win over Clermont Auvergne - Kiss has called for a more clinical display on Saturday.

"It was an important one to get out and do what we had to do to win," he said of beating Edinburgh 24-18 at a bitterly cold Kingspan.

"To get the bonus point in the first half was really something you do not expect but it was good to get it."

But coming up against the other Scottish side in the PRO12 - who are also pushing hard to make the top four and are only three points in front of Ulster - will require a much higher and consistent level of performance with the province's failure to score any points in the second half against Edinburgh sure to be punished if repeated against Gregor Townsend's side.

"We have also accepted that we did not finish the game as well as we would have liked," stated Kiss.

"We will try and build on the things that we did well in the first half (against Edinburgh). That is important for us."

Ulster produced one of their best performances of the season when they won the corresponding fixture at Scotstoun in September by 22-17 and a repeat result would be most welcome ahead of three games against Italian opposition.

"We're at home so we'd expect to deliver something similar," Kiss said of the previous meeting with the Warriors.

"Glasgow are one of the more belligerent sides to play. We just want to try and keep building the confidence from last week."

With Glasgow coming into this game off a home defeat to the Scarlets, and likely to also have a number of international players in their ranks, this could be some game.

Belfast Telegraph


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