Belfast Telegraph

Doak: Stick to basics and the win will follow

By Michael Sadlier

From here, there's no such thing as an easy route through.

It takes something special for any side wanting to progress to the Heineken Cup's last four with a performance low on error count and high on harvesting the opportunities presented being essential requirements.

Assistant coach Neil Doak doesn't side-step the importance of hitting the ground running and how Ulster have to come out of the traps early with an effort that puts Saracens and ex-Ulster coach Mark McCall on the back foot from early on.

Whether home or away, you simply have to set out the stall to prevail, as was the case with last season's quarter-final glory away to Munster.

"It's not rocket science," Doak says.

"When you get to these stages I can't see a try-fest, so we've got to make sure that whatever tries come they come to us and whatever opportunities come at kicking at goal, we take them and make sure the scoreboard is ticking over."

"You can't sit on your heels on these occasions," Doak says, before outlining just how tough Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final will be for Ulster.

"If you do and let teams run at you they can put you under serious pressure and if we don't have discipline then they've got goal-kickers who can do the business," he adds, while nodding to the skills of Owen Farrell and Charlie Hodgson.

"So it's really going to be a key thing that the confrontation side of things is not only matched by us but can see us hopefully getting an edge.

"We know we need to make them play their game from slightly deeper which maybe they haven't done in the past," Doak says while emphasising Ulster's fundamental need to be disciplined. "For the big games whoever dominates the breakdown and whoever dominates the ball gives you that little bit of front-foot that you can play off."

Last weekend's dramatic win over Leinster showed just what a close to full-strength Ulster can do even when the odds are supposedly against them.

"We felt that we wanted to be patient with the ball and obviously there were a few things that lead into this week that we were trying to implement that went slightly out the window when we were making 20 or 30 metres around their outside edges.

"But they were slightly softer on the outside edges than Saracens will be," said Doak who was a player during the early part of McCall's tenure at Ulster stresses.

"It (the Leinster win and Ulster's excellent defence at the end) gave us good impetus going into this week." But Doak knows that unless the pack can get on top there is precious little that can be done in attack.

"Hopefully the forwards will be able to do a job up front and give us the platform.

"It's about capitalising on the opportunities you get and being patient with the ball and hopefully the experience of last year (when they were heavily beaten by Leinster in the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham) will now be good for our guys.

So get the basics right and the rest should follow and there's no argument from the assistant coach.

"It's (the win) well within our grasp but we've got to try and make sure we take our opportunities."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph