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Ulster aiming to be 'squeaky clean' with Tuohy and Pienaar back on board

Neil Doak is hoping Ulster can take control of the penalty count as they chase a bonus point against Scarlets.

Image: Presseye/Russell Pritchard/INPHO

ULSTER COACH NEIL Doak is hoping to bolster his starting XV with the return of both Dan Tuohy and Ruan Pienaar this weekend.

The northern province go in to Saturday’s meeting with the Scarlets (KO 19.45) knowing that anything less than a bonus point win will likely confirm their early exit from the Champions Cup.

Having two extra internationals can only help that cause, and both Tuohy and Pienaar have been training this week after recovering from arm and knee injuries.

“We’ll just see how they react and come through,” said Doak after pointing out the duo’s return, ”and if there’s no reaction then they’ll potentially be involved at the weekend.”

Perhaps more important than personnel however, is Ulster’s in-game consistency. While Doak complains of a change in focus or interpretation from referees between one half and another, a common theme between coach and players is that they must put together a solid 80-minute performance.

“Maybe certain things have happened at half time and the ref has decided to come out and go against us,” Doak said in Kingspan Stadium yesterday.

“We’ve conceded a lot of penalties after half time. Talking to guys this week, we’ve got to be as squeaky clean as we can and not allow refs to put us under pressure and allow teams to relieve reassure and get territory against us.

“That’s a disappointing thing, we’ve been pretty comfortable in the first half and then you put yourself under pressure with silly errors and both Ospreys and Munster capitalised on it.”

And with the penalty count in the narrow defeat to Munster reading 10 – 12 against the away side in Thomond Park, Doak bemoaned the loss of pressure through a referee’s whistle:

BJ Botha and Robbie Diack share a joke after the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We had Munster under a little bit of pressure at times, but that bit of ill discipline, a few turnovers just allowed them to get in the game and put pressure on us. We’ve just got to try and make sure we do that for the full 80 minutes. Especially the first 20 after half time.

“The last two weeks have been disappointing from that point of view. We want to try and rectify it this week.”

First published at 13.51

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Sean Farrell

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