Ulster relish Champions Cup opener

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:06
Large robbie diack

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Despite suffering a defeat last week at the hands of Connacht, Ireland back row Robbie Diack is adamant Ulster Rugby is ready to take on Bordeaux for their Champions Cup opener on Saturday.

The 1999 European Champions held the last 100% record in the three European professional leagues going into last weekend's Inter-Pro derby with Connacht Rugby in Galway and just fell short of making it six in a row in a 30-25 defeat against the reigning PRO12 champions.

Ulster head to France for their Pool five clash with a Bordeaux-Begles who have won five of their eight TOP 14 matches to date, including the last three. They warmed-up for their first European clash with Ulster since they beat them 29-16 in the inaugural season by pipping Brive 27-25 at home last weekend.

The South African-born Diack and his teammates have indeed good reason to be confident against French opposition. His side have won eight of their last ten games against French opposition in Europe, including home and away doubles over Oyonnax and Toulouse in last season's Pool stages. Add in away wins in Castres Olympique and Montpellier in recent years. The Belfast-based side have every reason feel prepare for their visit.

"We've come a long way but it's never easy over in France. We're disappointed to finish off this block of games with a loss, but to take our form over the first six weeks in the PRO12 into Europe will be huge for us," said Diack.

"The first game always sets the tone for the tournament and is very important for helping you to get out of the pool. It will be a big test for us.

"But going down to Connacht was the perfect preparation for Europe. It's going to be tough again this week but I think we're in a good place - we're hurting but, at the same time, we're doing pretty well and I think that combination will serve us well,"

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss rested ace scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar for the trip to Galway and is hopefully of having Charles Piutau and Stuart Olding fit to play at Stade Chaban-Delmas on Sunday.

Co-captain Andrew Trimble hopes to prove his fitness in training this week, but lock Franco van der Merwe is set to miss the first two rounds with an ankle problem.

Source: epcrugby.com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 14h00 Paris
Fri, 28 April 2017
Ospreys v Ulster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 22h00 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Connacht v Scarlets 22h00 Sportsground
Edinburgh v Dragons 22h00 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 RDS Arena
Treviso v Munster 22h00 Stadio Monigo
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
Bulls v Jaguares 26 | 13
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 24
Glasgow Warriors 6 4 0 2 19
Leicester Tigers 6 2 0 4 8
Racing Metro 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 1 1 22
Toulouse 6 3 2 1 18
Connacht 6 4 0 2 18
Zebre 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 5 1 0 24
Toulon 6 3 0 3 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 11
Sale Sharks 6 1 0 5 4
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 4 1 1 23
Montpellier 6 3 0 3 16
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Northampton Saints 6 2 0 4 9
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 26
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 14
Exeter Chiefs 6 2 0 4 12
Ulster 6 2 0 4 10