Ulster travel to Dragons seeking to improve lacklustre away record

New head coach makes four changes and three positional switches for Rodney Parade game

Newly appointed Ulster head coach Les Kiss. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho.

Newly appointed Ulster head coach Les Kiss. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho.

 

Ulster’s lack of success on the road was a topic of conversation broached by captain Rory Best and new head coach Les Kiss during the week and the two exchanged some ideas about how they could change that state of affairs.

They get a chance to put those thoughts into practice on Sunday when they travel to the generally inhospitable Rodney Parade.

Change of fortune

Ulster’s last away win was against Connacht last April and, with their Champions Cup campaign starting with a trip to Oyonnax the following weekend, they’d like a change in fortune.

Kiss has made four changes and three positional switches with the most interesting a first start for Ballymena’s club international Stephen Mulholland. Rory Scholes replaces the injured Andrew Trimble while Peter Nelson returns at fullback.

Sam Arnold, outstanding for Ireland under-20s last season at inside centre, gets a run on the wing while Kyle McCall comes into the frontrow at loosehead prop. Rory Best, Ruan Pienaar and Craig Gilroy are named on a strong bench.

Dragons’ coach Lyn Jones, while confident of what he can expect from Ulster, is demanding a significant improvement from his own team.

“We played some attractive rugby last season and the season before but so far we haven’t been able to get the ball through three pairs of hands.

“That’s something very much in our mind because if we are to be successful then we have to score at least 25 points. You are not going to do that by holding onto the ball all the time, the game has to have some width.

“Ulster are the team in the league who kick the most and will drag the game into a kicking duel. We cannot afford to play rugby on the tail end of a really good kick.”

The evidence of the season so far suggests a home victory but this is a match that Ulster would dearly like to take against the head, even with slightly depleted resources.

Newport Gwent Dragons v Ulster, Rodney Parade, Sunday, 2.30 (Live BBC 2)

DRAGONS: C Meyer; A Hewitt, A Hughes, A Warren, N Scott; D Jones, S Pretorius; B Stankovich, E Dee, S Knight; C Hill, R Landman (capt); E Jackson, O Griffiths, T Faletau. Replacements: R Buckley, P Price, B Harris, M Screech, L Evans, C Davies, J Tovey, R Wardle.

ULSTER: P Nelson; R Scholes, D Cave, S McCloskey, S Arnold; P Jackson, P Marshall; K McCall, R Herring (capt), W Herbst; D Tuohy, F van der Merwe; R Diack, C Henry, S Mulholland. Replacements: R Best, R Lutton, B Ross, L Stevenson, S Reidy, R Pienaar, I Humphreys, C Gilroy.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)

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