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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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'It doesn't help having one good weekend, one bad': Ulster target consistency ahead of twin tussles with Toulouse

First up, Les Kiss’ men take on the side one place above them in the Pro12 table, Edinburgh.

THE OPENING WEEKS of Les Kiss’ tenure have been far from plain sailing.

The hope among the regulars around Kingspan Stadium was that the Australian’s arrival at the beginning of last month would be like a cavalry swinging momentum Ulster’s way after a mixed opening period in the Pro12.

Nick Williams and Kyle McCall dejected Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The initial signs were perfect, an away win over the Dragons complete with some steely defensive resolve. Perhaps those qualities weren’t far away during the 8 – 3 loss in Dublin either, but after the trouncing sustained at home to Saracens, a second straight defeat without putting a try on the board is tough to ignore.

Following the loss to Leinster, Kiss refused to get downbeat about the result, and that positive hue around aspects of the performance remains as the squad looks ahead to Friday night’s clash at home to Edinburgh.

“The guys really lifted themselves after the previous weekend’s result (v Saracens),” totemic second row Franco van der Merwe told The42 today.

“The guys really played well in terms of the way we wanted to defend and the way we wanted to attack. Even though we didn’t score a try, in the second half nobody scored any points, so from a defensive point of view the guys really played well and there are a lot of positives we can take from that game.”

Darren Cave celebrates his second try with Franco Van Der Merwe Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

Even after managing just a single penalty in the RDS, Ulster remain the league’s joint second highest try-scorers (level on 23 with Cardiff Blues behind Connacht’s 25). The negative side is that the red hand has slid down to seventh, level on points with Friday’s opponents.

With back-to-back Champions Cup clashes against Toulouse coming down the tracks after that, Ulster must turn that performance positivity in to points sooner rather than later.

“One of the things for us,” adds Van Der Merwe, “is to really stick to what Les wants us to do in terms of gameplan and the way we want to play to have that continuity every weekend.

It doesn’t help us having one good weekend, one bad… we need to have the continuity to improve every weekend.”

The Springbok would happily accept another try-less return from his side this weekend, as long as they are on the right side of the result and building to a bigger, better performance for the following Friday night when Toulouse are in town.

“If we can take the win without scoring tries, then by all means. Then we can take that momentum and positive continuity then we’re more than happy.”

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Sean Farrell

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