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Ulster need perfect 10 to keep glory bid on track, admits Kiss

By Michael Sadlier

With 15 points bagged from their last three matches, Ulster are now going all out to take ownership of another 10 from the remaining two home fixtures from this segment of games, starting with Treviso tomorrow night at the Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).

And Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss has demanded a significant improvement from what was on show in Parma on Sunday when Ulster saw off basement side Zebre in a not entirely convincing performance despite scoring six tries in their 40-17 win.

"We want to try and get a bit of a more foot-on-the-throat type mentality and not give them (Treviso) access into the game," stated Kiss as Ulster aim to stay right in the hunt to break their way into the PRO12's top four.

"We've got to get out here at Kingspan and be on the money."

This leads to the Australian addressing his side's tendency to blow hot and cold in games which, at one point, actually allowed a seriously diluted Zebre too much access to Sunday's encounter.

"England are nowhere near perfect and they're winning," said Kiss before warming to his subject.

"Is winning a habit or can you win perfectly?

"Have you ever surfed?

"I've never seen a surfer go out and say I'm only going to surf perfect waves.

"If he does that and gets the perfect wave but surfs it badly and then he gets an imperfect wave but surfs it perfectly ... whatever is dealt you, you have to learn from it and grow from it.

"You find the most you have from the moment in front of you.

"We understand we want to be better and are we perfection driven? No, we're excellence driven and reality driven.

"We want to respond in the best moment we can and build our mentality around it."

Surfing done with, he turns his attention more directly to tomorrow evening and the possibility that Treviso arrive in Belfast ready to deploy the tactics used by their national side at Twickenham when Conor O'Shea's team flummoxed England for a half by not contesting rucks and therefore eliminating the offside line.

"Well we did have a chat about it," said Kiss.

"And I wouldn't say that they're likely to bring it but they could.

"It's an interesting tactic and you always talk about what would happen and we've had a discussion about it for sure and we might even try it on them."

And then turning his thoughts to more likely scenarios to be encountered against Treviso, Kiss dealt with what needs to be done.

"This is not a banana skin game coming up, but it's a pretty important one," he said.

"If we can get this one and then the next one (Zebre at home), the season looks completely different."

Even though it's a five-day turnaround for Kiss's squad from their game in Zebre, a rotated Ulster squad with Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne and Marcell Coetzee back in the side, should be far too strong for the Italians - who also last played on Sunday when losing their 14th league game of the season when hosting Connacht.

And following on from tomorrow, the plan will all be about another bonus point result over Zebre as Ulster wrap up their game in hand on Saturday week in the rearranged game at the Kingspan.

All that should see them manage to gain access to the top four though staying there with a run-in which includes closing games against Munster, the Ospreys and Leinster throws a very different complexion on the notion that currently fifth-placed Ulster are on an irresistible charge to secure knockout rugby for another season.

Even though Kiss expects it, there is no automatic assumption that two maximum point results against Italian opponents at the foot of the table, who have just three league wins all season between them, are simply gimmes for his squad.

And he pointed out that the Italians are scrapping away in their own battle with each other for their sole Champions Cup place next season.

Treviso currently lead basement side Zebre by two points and the one who finishes above the other secures a place at Europe's top table.

"We talked about respecting what the opponent has to play for," he said before focusing on how the province have to build greater consistency into their game.

"It gets tougher into the back end of the season. For us to be somewhere later, we have to make sure we're honest with each other," Kiss said.

"We made four or five errors in a row (at Zebre).

"You do it once, you can accept it, but when three or four errors happen in a row that is when you start to give the opposition a real chance.

"It is trying to be real about making sure we reduce those moments and understand why they are happening.

"It is concentration and focus about delivering the basics in a given moment to keep yourself in a strong position to keep pushing forward."

So, we can hope for a much more ruthless display tomorrow evening though, of course, a rotated team can sometimes be one that fails to fire on all cylinders.

Even so, Coetzee's presence ought to give Kiss's men a significant advantage to help Ruan Pienaar release the attacking skills of those outside.

It's up to Ulster to catch the wave.

Belfast Telegraph


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