Kiss says Ulster must improve on Italian job
Treviso 14 Ulster 21
Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has admitted Scarlets will be expected to conquer Kingspan Stadium on Friday should his side repeat their performance from Saturday's win over Treviso.
Ulster have started the season with successive wins, but left Italy on Saturday night both frustrated and relieved after blowing the chance for a try-bonus and, in the end, having to hold on as Treviso threatened to steal an unlikely draw from 21-0 down.
"They'll rightly be favourites and we need to improve on what we did (against Treviso), if we're going to put something up against them," Kiss said of Friday night's task.
"It'll be tough to say the least. They're champions, they're in a good vein of form and they've continued on from last year."
With Scarlets and Leinster already boasting perfect 10s from their two games, Ulster will not want to lose any more ground on their presumed play-off rivals this early.
With five changes from week one, there was little fluidity in Ulster's game, but a first-half brace from Andrew Trimble made it seem like matters were under control at the break.
The hosts, though, responded well in the third quarter.
Ulster have never lost, but have rarely impressed, in the Stadio Monigo, and for 20 minutes after the break it seemed another evening of frustration was on the cards.
Good fortune was on their side, though, when John Cooney charged down a kick and patted the ball back for Jacob Stockdale to score his first try of the campaign. With a little over 15 minutes left, it was presumed Ulster would make light of an earlier chalked-off effort and go on to grab the crucial fourth score.
However, having only threatened occasionally in the first-half, Treviso scored twice in quick succession and instead of going hunting for the bonus, Ulster were instead hanging on to avoid a draw.
"There was relief," admitted Kiss. "They had real momentum."
ULSTER: L Ludik, A Trimble (c) ( L Marshall 49), T Bowe, S McCloskey, J Stockdale, C Leali'ifano (P Nelson 60), J Cooney (D Shanahan 67), C Black (A Warwick 50), R Herring (J Andrew 61), W Herbst (R Ah You 60), R Diack, K Treadwell (P Browne 73), M Rea, S Reidy, J Deysel (C Henry 49).
TREVISO: J Hayward (M Zanon 60), A Esposito, A Sgarbi (c), T Allan, T Benvenuti, I McKinley, T Tebaldi (G Bronzini 52), F Zani (C Traore 40), L Bigi (E Makelara 52), S Ferrari (T Pasquali 50), M Lazzaroni, F Ruzza, F Minto (M Barbini 57 ), A Steyn, W Douglas.
Ref - D Jones (Wales).