Ulster’s director of rugby Les Kiss is hoping his side can bounce back from their defeat at the hands of Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht when they kick off their European Champions Cup campaign against Bordeaux-Begles on Sunday.
The Irish side lost 30-25 in a thrilling inter-pro derby encounter in Galway last Friday evening, surrendering their 100 per cent winning record in the Guinness PRO12 in the process.
The other two sides in Pool 5, Exeter Chiefs and ASM Clermont Auvergne, lock horns later on Sunday evening and Kiss will be desperate to draw first blood in the group.
And given they still sit top of the Guinness PRO12 on points difference, Kiss wants his team to put last week out of their minds and focus on their trip to Bordeaux.
“It’s now all about readying ourselves for Bordeaux,” he said. “Hopefully we can take some lessons from the wins against Toulouse home and away last year and approach it in a similar fashion.
“You need to be on your game right from the first whistle. You need to play at a good tempo against the French teams.
“We’ll have to dust ourselves down, take an honest look at things and move forward. We’ve got to, that’s all there is to it.
“We took a hard look at ourselves this week, but nights like Saturday past happen from time to time.
“In the second half we seemed to get on the right side of a couple of calls and we don’t kick the ball out. We didn’t kick the ball out after a scrum penalty. Then some other incident happened and suddenly they scored. It just turned around in that moment.”
Ulster impressed in the Champions Cup last year, notching up successive wins over both Oyonnax and Toulouse in the Pool stages.
However Kiss is wary of a repeat performance in which they narrowly lost twice to Saracens to miss out on the knockout stages of the competition.
“If I look back on the two Saracens matches last year, we were in the hunt for at least 55-60 minutes in both of them,” he said.
“They then did what Saracens do; they take the game away from you and we didn’t quite hang in with them. Maybe that was through a little bit of inexperience in dealing with tough moments.
“It’s something that we’ve worked on and probably the key lesson is that one point is valuable. To stay in the hunt for one point at any time that you can is important.
“The start is pretty important for us and to go over there and come away with nothing would not be ideal. We’re going to try and take points off each other right through.”
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