Monday 25 September 2017

Kiss wary of 'dangerous' ospreys in must-win clash for Ulster

Craig Gilroy, Ulster dives over the line to score his side's second try. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Craig Gilroy, Ulster dives over the line to score his side's second try. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Jonathan Bradley

With his Ulster side's season on the line away to Ospreys this afternoon (3.0pm), Les Kiss has made three changes, two forced by injury.

While the Ulster director of rugby would have loved to have his latest Lion, Jared Payne, fit to take on the Welsh region, the 31-year-old remains on the sidelines with an ankle problem, meaning it is Craig Gilroy that comes in at full-back.

Jacob Stockdale, who filled the role against Munster, drops to the bench. With Chris Henry having picked up a calf injury in that game, the Malone man is also ruled out of today's contest meaning Robbie Diack comes in at No.8, while the other change sees fit-again centre Stuart McCloskey line out alongside Luke Marshall in the midfield.

With Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson retained at half-back, and Charles Piutau and Andrew Trimble on the wings, Kiss has the benefit of naming a fully internationally-capped backline.

There is stability in the tight five where once again Andy Warwick and Wiehahn Herbst will prop either side of hooker Rory Best, and the duo of Alan O'Connor and Kieran Treadwell will be deployed in the engine room.

With Diack in at the base of the scrum, Iain Henderson and Sean Reidy are the flankers, with Academy player Nick Timoney set for a possible second outing off the bench due to an injury to Clive Ross.

With the loser of today's game really up against it in terms of making the play-offs - Ulster sit one place and one point behind their opponents with two games left - Kiss has admitted his team are in must-win territory.

"We know they are dangerous at home," he said. "We just have to accept that they are in the same space as we are. We need to win to make sure we can get the second win which guarantees the play-off. One of us loses and it is a distinct advantage for the other team.

"We just have to go and win this game. How we go about that is what we have been working on. It was always going to be a tough end to the season. It is fairly simple. The team which can get the upper hand this week, it is going to be pretty crucial in the whole make-up of things." Verdict: Ulster

Ospreys - D Evans; K Giles, K Fonotia, A Beck, T Habberfield; D Biggar, R Webb (c); N Smith, S Baldwin, B Mujati, B Davies, T Ardron, S Underhill, J Tipuric, J King. Reps: S Otten, P James, R Jones, L Ashley, D Baker, B Leonard, S Davies, J Matavesi.

Ulster - C Gilroy; A Trimble (c), L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar; A Warwick, R Best, W Herbst; K Treadwell, A O'Connor; I Henderson, S Reidy, R Diack. Reps: R Herring, C Black, R Ah You, F van der Merwe, N Timoney, P Marshall, S Olding, J Stockdale

REF - J Lacey (IRFU)

Ospreys v Ulster,

Live, BBC 2 NI, 3.0

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