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Neil Doak wants to keep up momentum after thrashing Ospreys

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 07/09/2015

Driving force: Stuart McCloskey drives over for a try against Ospreys
Driving force: Stuart McCloskey drives over for a try against Ospreys

After opening the Pro12 with a bonus-point win against the Ospreys on Friday, Ulster head coach Neil Doak has said his side must back up the performance against the Scarlets this weekend.

The fixture will be the last of the month for Ulster - a two-week break for the World Cup follows - and Doak has called for the province to maintain consistency during what is a disjointed start to the season.

Opening the year with two wins would represent a considerable achievement, however, with Parc y Scarlets a difficult ground to visit.

Ulster could not triumph there on two occasions last season, drawing in the Pro12 and losing in the Champions Cup, and Wayne Pivac's men have been beaten at home only once in the league since the turn of 2014.

Last season, it was only their away form that stopped the west Wales outfit finishing higher than sixth but they claimed a notable success on their travels at the first time of asking this campaign.

The Llanelli side got the better of Gregor Townsend's Glasgow at Scotstoun on Saturday despite finishing the game with just 11 men, ending the champions' 20 game unbeaten Pro12 run at home in the process.

With this in mind, Doak knows that two wins from two will be no easy task.

"As a team, what we are looking for now is consistency," he said.

"We now have to go away to Scarlets, which hasn't been a happy place for us and they are decent at home. It's going to be a difficult ask going there and we have to make sure that we put in an 80 minute performance."

With Ulster having an extra day of preparation compared to their opponents, the head coach is hoping that the eight-day turnaround serves his players well.

Despite requiring running repairs to a cut chin, Roger Wilson put in an 80 minute shift on Friday night after a pre-season foot injury and Nick Williams got through just under an hour in what was his first game since March. Robbie Diack did not feature after missing training due to a course of antibiotics during the first half of last week while Callum Black, Ian Humphreys and Sam Windsor were absent through injury.

"There was a little bit of fatigue, a few sore bodies, but we'll let them rest and gather our thoughts," said Doak

"We have an extra day which is handy at this stage.

"Anybody that has any bumps and bruises at least we have that to get them ready in time for Saturday."

Should either Windsor (achilles) or Humphreys (hamstring) return to fitness this week however, Doak will have a decision to make after the impressive performance of Peter Nelson in the number ten jersey against Ospreys.

The 22-year-old had made all of his previous senior starts in the back-three - playing out-half only for Dungannon and the once again re-branded Ulster 'A' side - but offered a composed showing at stand-off.

"You've four out-halves in your squad," said Doak.

"Jacko (Paddy Jackson) at the World Cup, the two guys injured, and Stuart Olding who probably would have been the fourth one for us out injured as well.

"We're down to the fifth choice but he did pretty well, so I think the other two are going to have to perform pretty well to get the jersey back."

On his impressive outing, Nelson reflected: "I got a heads up during the week that I was going to be playing ten and I played there a lot in school, pretty much my whole school career and then for Dungannon.

"It wasn't completely unfamiliar.

"It's another string to my bow, I enjoyed it there at ten.

"I'm quite used to it though from club and school level," Nelson added.

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