Tuesday 6 December 2016

Neil Doak optimistic ahead of daunting Glasgow rematch

Glasgow 32 Ulster 10

Michael Sadlier

Published 18/05/2015 | 02:30

Iain Henderson, Ulster, is tackled by Peter Horne, Glasgow Warriors. Guinness PRO12, Round 22, Glasgow Warriors v Ulster, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland (Craig Watson / SPORTSFILE)
Iain Henderson, Ulster, is tackled by Peter Horne, Glasgow Warriors. Guinness PRO12, Round 22, Glasgow Warriors v Ulster, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland (Craig Watson / SPORTSFILE)
Stuart McCloskey, Ulster, is tackled by Andrew Warwick, Glasgow Warriors
Lewis Stevenson, Ulster, takes the ball in a lineout

At least now there are no head-wrecking permutations to ponder. Ulster now have a return trip to Glasgow for a straight shoot-out on Friday with the prize of a Kingspan final for the winner.

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And though the scale of the defeat here was disappointing, Ulster suspected that they were in line for another road trip for their play-off, whatever had happened, and so it came to pass.

No travelling team has yet to come away victorious at the play-off stages and Glasgow possess a pretty bullet-proof home record in the Pro12.

And that's not the only worry as there are concerns over second-row Franco van der Merwe's fitness after he limped away from Scotstoun on crutches, while prop Wiehahn Herbst's toe injury - he was one of seven players with knocks who didn't play at the weekend - is rumoured to be a bit of an issue.

Even so, Neil Doak, who has several big guns ready to return, was upbeat, saying: "We'll be looking forward to getting back here on Friday. We'll have a few bodies coming back but we know we can't stand off them and know we have to stay in their faces (a lot) more.

Opportunity

"We would have liked a home semi-final but it wasn't to be. But we know that if we can take every opportunity we can beat any team on the day.

"It's just now about who can handle the pressure and who can take their chances on the day."

Glasgow won the toss and opted to play into the gale. The Warriors struggled with it - having Jonny Gray binned didn't help - and Ulster's unfamiliar line-up managed to get a decent foothold in the game, only to miss out on opportunities to open up a better lead than the 10-6 margin they had constructed by half-time.

It never looked enough but only after Stuart Hogg had finally won himself some space to chip, collect and score did the momentum shift to the home side's. And once Finn Russell had scored the first of his brace, shortly afterwards, a power surge was well under way.

"I thought we were pretty competitive for 50-odd minutes and if we'd looked after the ball a bit better a couple of times then we could have put Glasgow under a little bit more stress," said Doak.

"Conditions were difficult but it is a disappointing result to concede 32 points."

After posing Glasgow some problems to take that 10-6 lead into the break, Ulster fell away badly after Hogg's 53rd-minute score.

Russell then bagged his brace with Richie Vernon adding the bonus-point try in the 72nd minute, with man of the match Russell converting all three.

Relief then for Glasgow, but now they will have to deal with what will hopefully be a fully loaded Ulster. It's game on now.

GLASGOW -S Hogg (P Murchie 73); T Seymour, R Vernon, P Horne (D Weir 74), S Lamont; F Russell, N Matawalu (H Pyrgos 52); R Grant (G Reid 52), D Hall (P MacArthur 52), R De Klerk (M Cusack 52); J Gray, A Kellock (capt) (L Nakarawa 60); J Strauss, C Fusaro (R Wilson 17-28 and 52), A Ashe.:

ULSTER- L Ludik; R Scholes, S Arnold (R Pienaar 73), S McCloskey (T Bowe 63), M Allen (T Bowe 10-19); I Humphreys (P Jackson 49-55, 60), P Marshall; A Warwick, R Herring, R Lutton (B Ross 60); L Stevenson, F Van der Merwe (I Henderson 19 (K McCall 65); C Ross, C Henry (capt), R Diack.

Ref - I Davies (WRU)

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