Sunday 21 January 2018

Doak braced for 'three cup finals' in Ulster quest

Ulster assistant coach Neil Doak
Ulster assistant coach Neil Doak
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Having cleared the first of their four hurdles with ridiculous ease last week, things now look a little steeper for Ulster as their race for a home semi-final continues in Glasgow.

Mark Anscombe's side's difficult run-in began with them putting 58 points on Connacht last weekend, but their final three games pit the second-placed side against the rest of the top four, starting with Warriors, who enjoyed an away win at Munster last weekend.

With Leinster at home and Munster away in their last games, there is plenty of work to be done by Ulster.

"We have three games left, and they are three cup finals against the top teams in the league. It's an enormous task, but one which we feel capable of handling," said backs coach Neil Doak.

"It is going to be a very tight finish."

Anscombe cannot call upon Stephen Ferris, who joined the lengthy injury list with an ankle injury that will have alarm bells ringing up north after the joint kept him out of rugby for more than a year.


Already without Rory Best, Ruan Pienaar, Roger Wilson, John Afoa and the suspended Jared Payne, Anscombe has moved Chris Henry across the back-row to blindside as Sean Doyle comes in at No 7.

He recalls loosehead Tom Court and outside-centre Darren Cave.

Cave's return sees Craig Gilroy drop to the bench, with Tommy Bowe back on the wing. Ireland tighthead Declan Fitzpatrick is on the bench after coming through concussion protocols.

Unbeaten in their last four games, last year's semi-finalists Glasgow have already overturned Ulster this season and boast an impressive record against the Irish provinces, winning five of their seven games in the campaign to date.

"They are one of the best defensive teams in the league," Doak said. "It is all about getting our noses in front and staying there."

Verdict: Glasgow Warriors

GLASGOW WARRIORS – P Murchie; S Maitland, M Bennett, P Horne, T Seymour; F Russell, C Cusiter (capt); G Reid, D Hall, J Welsh; T Swinson, J Gray; J Strauss, C Fusaro, R Wilson. Reps: P MacArthur, R Grant, G Cross, L Nakarawa, R Harley, N Matawalu, R Jackson, R Vernon.

ULSTER – R Andrew, T Bowe, D Cave, L Marshall, A Trimble, P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, R Herring, R Lutton, J Muller (capt), I Henderson, C Henry, S Doyle, N Williams. Reps: N Annett, A Warwick, D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, M McComish, M Heaney, J McKinney, C Gilroy.

Ref – J Lacey (IRFU)


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Irish Independent

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