Saturday 17 November 2018

Ulster's fast start to prove too much for wounded Cheetahs

Jared Payne. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jared Payne. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

When Jared Payne was asked during the week whether Ulster would be making many changes to their side for their second successive South African venture, he replied that he didn't think so.

Few believed him; the difficulties of altitude and a five-day turnaround rendered that a distinct improbability.

They had also hoped to integrate Marty Moore into their side, as well as rushing John Cooney back but discretion has prevailed, with six changes to the side and a couple of Academy starters thrown into the mix for good measure.

It still should not, given the Cheetahs' execrable form, prevent them notching up a fourth successive win.

Giddy times, perhaps; then again, Ulster went on a similar run at the beginning of last season and we all know what happened thereafter.

This feels different, though, even if the side haven't produced anything like the rugby they should be capable of.

For now, it is winning rugby and after all the uncertainty of the past few months, that will do for starters as Ulster's new faces continue to mingle freely with old.

"Sometimes you get new guys coming into the team and sometimes they struggle to settle," says assistant coach Payne.

"But the quality of these guys both as players and individuals shows in how quickly they have settled. They are pretty good players but top individuals too so it's a credit to them and a credit to the guys around them as well who have welcomed them in and really made them feel at home," he added. Verdict: Ulster

Toyota Cheetahs - M Jaer; W Small-Smith, BJ van Rensburg, N Lee, R Maxwane; T Schoeman, T Meyer (c); O Nche, J Dweba, A Coetzee, W Steenkamp, JP du Preez, G Olivier, J Pokomela, N Jordaan. Reps: J du Toit, C Marais, GJ van Vuuren, J Basson, S Malan, S Venter, L Fouche, R Eksteen.

Ulster - W Addison; C Gilroy, H Speight, S McCloskey, A Kernohan; B Burns, D Shanahan; E O'Sullivan, R Herring (C), W Herbst, A O'Connor, K Treadwell, M Rea, S Reidy, M Coetzee.

Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, T O'Toole, J Deysel, N Timoney, J Stewart, A Curtis, D Cave.

Ref - B Whitehouse (RFU)

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