herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Won't be a case of Groundhog Day come Friday

Neil Doak
Neil Doak

Ulster deserved nothing more than what they got at Scotstoun, losing 32-10 against Glasgow Warriors on the final weekend with what amounted to a second-string selection.

The integrity of the PRO12 was called into question by coach Neil Doak's decision to effectively hand away the initiative and the points.

However, Doak will take heart from the fact that his men led until the 56th minute when a piece of magic from Stuart Hogg was the beginning of a landslide final quarter in which out-half Finn Russell (2) and centre Richie Vernon rounded-off the four tries for the bonus-point.

All will be forgiven and forgotten as long as Ulster can return there on Friday night and churn out the victory that would claim a home final at The Kingspan Stadium.

Worryingly, their lineout leader Franco van der Merwe cut a disconsolate figure as he limped away from the action in the 18th minute.

Ulster will know that they quietened a loud crowd and defused Glasgow's game for nearly three-quarters of the match on Saturday.

A tweak here and there and the reintroduction of a host of Ireland internationals will put them in the right frame of mind.

It would be naive, in the extreme, for Gregor Townsend to ignore how his Warriors struggled with the pressure to confirm their form as the pre-eminent club for the majority of the season.

The Northern Province will look to crank up the physical and psychological pressure back there four days.

ulster

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