Thursday 16 August 2018

Ulster eye their second successive bonus

Jacob Stockdale comes in for Piutau. Photo: PA
Jacob Stockdale comes in for Piutau. Photo: PA Sportsdesk

An early indication that Charles Piutau and Marcell Coetzee will be key to Ulster's hopes this term; neither are required for what should be a second successive five-pointer in seven days.

The Italians have a new name but the same old problems; as deeply uncompetitive as ever in opening day defeat in Cork, removing 19 injured players from their roster compounds their woe.

Ulster will not care a whit as they seek succour from a swift start to the season as a trio of recently capped internationals return to the side that sprinted away from the Cheetahs last week.

Jacob Stockdale comes in for Piutau with Louis Ludik switching to full-back in the only back-line change.

Kieran Treadwell replaces Alan O'Connor at lock while a third of the summers novel Irish internationals, Sean Reidy, joins promising Ballymena back-rower Matthew Rea - who made his debut last week from the bench - in the back-row.

With Chris Henry, another rested, summer signing Jean Deysel will switch to No 8. Ulster's wobbly lineout is an immediate work-on for Jono Gibbes and Co. Callum Black is also drafted into the front-row to replace Kyle McCall.

"You couldn't have asked for a better start but we can't leave it at that one win, we have to build wins and I think we have a few fixtures coming up that we like to think we can win every game," says midfielder Stuart McCloskey.

"They're not going to roll over for us, especially at home, so we have to bring our best game."

Verdict: Ulster

Benetton Rugby - J Hayward; A Esposito, A Sgarbi (capt), T Allan, T Benvenuti; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; F Zani, L Bigi, S Ferrari, M Lazzaroni, F Ruzza, F Minto, S Negri, W Douglas. Reps: E Makelara, C Traore, T Pasquali, M Barbini, A Steyn, G Bronzini, E Gori, M Zanon.

Ulster - L Ludik; A Trimble (capt), T Bowe, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealifano, J Cooney; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst, R Diack, K Treadwell, M rea, S Reidy, J Deysel. Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, P Browne, C Henry, D Shanahan, P Nelson, L Marshall.

Ref - D Jones (WRU)

Benetton Rugby v Ulster, Live BBC 2 NI, 6.05

Irish Independent

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