Monday 23 January 2017

Piutau returns as Ulster prepare for Chiefs backlash

Ulster v Exeter Chiefs, Live BT Sport, 7.45

Published 22/10/2016 | 02:30

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss: “We cannot expect the same spaces that Clermont had and Exeter will respond in kind.” Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss: “We cannot expect the same spaces that Clermont had and Exeter will respond in kind.” Photo: Sportsfile

It has been a long week for all four Irish provinces and the manner in which Ulster self destructed in Bordeaux will have made the last seven days feel even longer.

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Leading 13-9 with six minutes remaining, Ulster collapsed and failed to leave France with a losing bonus point, let alone the victory.

It was another harsh European lesson for an Ulster side who are expected to end what will be an 11-year wait for a trophy by the time the season ends.

Despite last weekend's home defeat to Clermont, Exeter are no mugs and last season's beaten Premiership finalists arrive in Belfast with a point of their own to prove.

Les Kiss can at least recall former All Black Charles Piutau (concussion) who makes his Champions Cup debut for Ulster. Former Ulster duo Gareth Steenson and Ian Whitten start for the Chiefs.

"We cannot expect the same spaces that Clermont had and Exeter will respond in kind," Kiss warned.

Verdict: Ulster

Ulster - J Payne; A Trimble (capt), L Marshall, S Olding, C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Best, R Ah You; P Browne, F van der Merwe; I Henderson, S Reidy, R Wilson. Reps: R Herring, A Warwick, R Kane, A O'Connor, C Ross, P Marshall, C Gilroy, T Bowe.

Exeter Chiefs - L Turner; O Woodburn, I Whitten, H Slade, J Short; G Steenson (capt), D Lewis; M Low, J Yeandle, H Williams; M Lees, G Parling; K Hortsmann, J Salvi, T Waldrom. Reps: E Talone, C Rimmer, T Francis, J Hill, D Dennis, J Maunder, S Hill, O Devoto.

Ref - A Ruiz (France)

Irish Independent

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