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Kiss: La Rochelle Have Threats All Over The Park

Kiss: La Rochelle Have Threats All Over The Park

Ulster started their Champions Cup campaign with a pleasing 19-9 win over Wasps at a bouncing Kingspan Stadium last Friday night.

That result, and in particular the manner of the second half performance, meant the province’s director of rugby Les Kiss was happy with his squad’s efforts.

“It was massive for us to be at Kingspan Stadium and play a team like Wasps,” he said. “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.”

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Charles Piutau and Jacob Stockdale combined for a crucial try which the latter finished, before the in-form pair linked up again for Stuart McCloskey’s score. While Kiss acknowledged their input, he was keen to stress the importance of the roles played by those around them. 

“In the second half, we made Wasps tackle a lot more and if you do that, shorten the line, it gives the likes of Charles and Jacob a chance to exploit that space on the outside. They did it well.

“But I’ve got to stress that the second half was about building the right pressure in the right parts of the park. We let Wasps off the hook a bit in that first half. We played a lot in that halfway area, but didn’t get the results that we wanted to.”

The result on Friday leaves Ulster with six victories from their first seven competitive games this season following a strong start to the GUINNESS PRO14. But perhaps the biggest challenge yet will come at Stade Marcel-Deflandre where La Rochelle will host Kiss’ men this Sunday.

The French side, who topped the Top 14 table after the regular season in May, announced their arrival on the Champions Cup stage with a 34-27 bonus point triumph away to Harlequins.

Kiss added: “It will be a massive test for us down there. La Rochelle have a hugely physical pack with some big, physically imposing players, and they have shown how powerful they can be over the past couple of seasons.

“But they also have some talented backs who can score from 90 metres out and do some brilliant things. They have threats all over the park and we will have to be at our best to get a good result on Sunday.”