Wednesday 12 December 2018

Kiss hails Ulster's 'massive' win over Wasps in European Champions Cup opener

Ulster came from behind to beat Wasps
Ulster came from behind to beat Wasps

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss hailed the Irish province's opening European Champions Cup home victory over Wasps as a huge result for the Kingspan Stadium side.

Second-half tries from Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey - scored within the space of three minutes and both involving former Wasps player Charles Piutau - saw Ulster win their Pool One opener 19-9 after trailing 9-3.

"It was massive for us," said Kiss after securing the four points. Ulster's other points came from two late penalties from Christian Lealiifano along with one from John Cooney.

For Wasps, Jimmy Gopperth kicked two penalties and Elliot Daly slotted one in the first half.

"Though we didn't play exceptionally well we showed toughness and were able to move the momentum of the game through smarter decisions in the second half," Kiss added.

"To get the win was nice."

While Piutau was able to hurt his former club as creator-in-chief, it was a fifth try in five games for Stockdale.

"They're linking well," Kiss said. "But the second half was all about us getting the pressure up after we let them off the hook a few times in the first half.

"In the second half we made them tackle a lot more and if we can make them tackle and shorten the line against Charles and Jacob and co on the edges you can expose the space and they did it well enough.

"It was a game we had to tough out and we certainly challenged our attitude and character."

Wasps - who failed to take a losing bonus point and ended the game with 14 men after Daly's yellow card - injury woes look set to continue after hooker Tom Cruse suffered a suspected broken thumb while flanker Thomas Young picked up a groin injury.

Head coach Dai Young saw his side fall to their fifth straight defeat and was left frustrated at leaking the two second half tries which swung the game.

"I was really pleased with lots of the first half but that spell after half-time when they scored two quick tries turned the momentum in their favour," he said.

"Then we were chasing the game a bit. Defensively I thought we stood up pretty well considering the opportunities we gave them and we were killed at penalty time really.

"We struggled to get momentum and any grip back on the game really."

As for the injuries, Young said that issues were bound to hit his squad after their five-day turnaround.

"That doesn't help (the short turnaround) but when you're down there it happens and you've just got to pick yourself up and get on with it."

Young blamed defensive errors for Ulster's tries, but admitted his side did not do enough when they had the ball themselves.

"We've also got to look at ourselves as well, we weren't creative enough with the ball," he said.

"We've just got to dust ourselves off and at some point our luck will turn."

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