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Pro12: Doak calling on Ulster young guns to keep the winning streak

Ulster will put their unbeaten record on the line against a side that have lost their last six matches.

Neil Doak (right) at an Ulster briefing with Craig Gilroy.
Neil Doak (right) at an Ulster briefing with Craig Gilroy.
Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

ULSTER AND EDINBURGH must have released a collective gulp when squads for the November internationals were announced.

The Heineken Cup semi-finalists have 13 players in the Scotland squad while the team that beat them in that semi, Ulster, have 15 players on duty for their country.

Ireland have released four Ulster players to take on Edinburgh this Friday and South Africa have given Ruan Pienaar leave to play a final match for his club before Ireland at the Aviva becomes his primary focus.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley will be hoping to get as many players back, albeit temporarily, from Andy Robinson’s clutches as he seeks to arrest a six-match losing streak.

Ulster are on a streak of their own – eight from eight – and assistant coach Neil Doak is eager for it to continue.

“It’s important that we get off to a good start and not let them settle,” Doak told TheScore.ie. ”We’ve talked all week about getting the right result to lead us into the international break unbeaten.

“After the break we’ve got a tough couple of months ahead. We play Scarlets then have two Heineken Cup games against Northampton, then Leinster and Munster before another two games in Europe.

“It would be good to take some momentum into that.”

Winning habit

The recent form guide would say 6-0 Ulster play 0-6 Edinburgh at home. Add to that, three Ulster wins from encounters last season and the odds of an upset elongate significantly.

“Edinburgh have caused us a few problems in the past,” argues Doak. “They have an expansive game and they pushed us hard twice last year.”

The former scrum-half must be referring to the 42-20 win at Edinburgh [the scores were close until the second-half] and the semi-final that Ulster edged 22-19.

Doak believes the Scottish side have too much quality to continuing on their downward trajectory.

He said, “They were unfortunate last week against Scarlets, losing out so late in the game. They played extremely well. I believe that whoever makes the least mistakes will win on Friday.”

Numbers game

“Being one of only two Scottish teams, they will lose a number of players,” Doak acknowledges, “but they, lot most clubs, have planned for that, brought in players and have some strength in depth.”

New arrivals at Edinburgh include former Cheetahs lock Izak van der Westhuizen, Willem Nel and Ben Atiga.

Ulster should not be found wanting when it comes to naming a starting XV capable of maintaining the winning run.

Roger Wilson came in and had an immediate impact when he came off the bench. He played a couple of Ravens games for us but he is delighted to be back in the mix. He added:

If you look at our first game against Glasgow and the game we played against them last week, only three or four players [Ulster had five] will have played in both games.

“The Ravens have played a couple of tough games and have really been challenged so the transition for the lads will not be so great. I trust them to do the job for us and keep the ball rolling.”

Pro12: Ireland trio granted leave to line out for Ulster on Friday

Pro12: Eoin O’Malley looking to pick up where he left off with Leinster

About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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