Ulster’s South African strong man Jean Deysel destroyed the Cheetahs Guinness Pro 14 debut with a man of the match display as the hosts won 42-19.
Deysel, the former Sharks enforcer, was imposing and immense on his Ulster debut. He was one of six South African players in the Ulster starting XV.
The Cheetahs, fielding the same players who had won five of six Currie Cup matches, started well to lead 14-8 after 20 minutes, but when they lost a man to the sin-bin Ulster scored three tries in a 10 minute spell. The Cheetahs never recovered from this Ulster onslaught.
Ulster led 27-14 at halftime and another of the Belfast-based South Africans, former Lions fullback Louis Ludik, scored early in the second half to extend the lead.
Ulster scored six tries to three to claim the bonus point and were comfortably the better side, despite this being their first match of the season. Deysel and former Sharks and Springbok flanker Marcel Coetzee were the best of the forwards. Coetzee, who missed most of last year with a knee injury, started at No 8 and excelled. He played the first 50 minutes.
The Cheetahs have played an entire Super Rugby season and half a Currie Cup season. More was expected of them in their debut but the South Africans who have made Belfast their home were at the forefront of a home team who physically were stronger and who technically were smarter.
In other matches, Rassie Erasmus’s Munster also won their opening game of the season and Edinburgh were away winners in Cardiff.
Tries: Tommy Bowe, Alan O’Conner, Stuart McCloskey, Charles Piutau, Louis Ludik, Peter Nelson
Conversions: John Cooney (2), Nelson
Penalties: Cooney (2)
Tries: Clayton Blommetjies, Makazole Mapimpi, Sergeal Petersen
Conversions: William Small-Smith (2)