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Let’s rock the Rec, roars Doak

Neil Doak has called on Ulster’s travelling army of fans to turn the Rec into a mini Ravenhill.

It’s unbelievable the support we get away from home and in a tight match they can make all the difference.

“It’s important though that we give them plenty to shout about from the start so in that respect it’s vital that we hit the ground running.

“Against Bath at Ravenhill earlier in the season we got our tactics spot on and the pack was magnificent and we have to aim for a repeat of that.

“Losing to us in Belfast wasn’t something they had planned on so you can take it that they will be flat out to put us in our place.

“You can bet your life they will be very physical up front and we’ve to match them in that critical area.

“I know that all week the whole talk has been about bonus points, but first and foremost we have to win the game,” said the Ulster assistant coach.

The only change to the line-up that gained victory over Edinburgh last weekend at Ravenhill is at number 10.

Out-half Niall O'Connor pulls on the number 10 jersey, while Ian Humphreys will start the match on the bench.

Humphreys looked the part that glorious afternoon when Ulster rolled back the years beating Stade Francais at Ravenhill.

But don’t be surprised to see him pressed into action midway through the second half if Ulster are within touching distance of the all important bonus point.

But for O’Connor it’s a rare opportunity to kick his side into good positions before unleashing a lethal three quarter line.

In addition with the Six Nations Championship fast approaching it could be a last opportunity for players to catch the eye of Ireland coach Declan Kidney.

For Ulster to have any chance of progressing in the Heineken Cup they must win with a bonus point and hope that Edinurgh can overcame Stade Francais at Murrayfield while denying them a losing bonus point.

“One of our priorities at the start of the season was to be heading into the final round of matches with something still to play for.

“So all credit to the players for achieving that. They are a very dedicated bunch who deserve to have something to show for their efforts.

“Winning a competitive match on English soil for the first time would do very nicely.

“It would do wonders for the development of what is a very young and talented squad.”

Ulster though shouldn’t underestimate the task that lies ahead.

Losing to Ulster at Ravenhill wasn’t something they had planned on and defeat and the manner of it was a crushing blow both to their pride and their Heineken Cup hopes.

Like the wounded tiger they are, they are determined to strike back and at least gain some small measure of consolation.

They came to Belfast full of confidence and bravado, but were sent packing by an Ulster pack that on the night punched above its weight.

It’s that level of performance Ulster must again produce at the Rec, a fearsome ground for visiting sides.

Coach Brian McLaughlin will be hoping that Ulster can reproduce that level of performance so allowing the recalled Niall O’Connor to dictate tactics with his big boot from the number 10 berth.

O’Connor has been warming the bench for the greater part of the season and this game is a rare and overdue opportunity for him to show he has plenty to offer.

For his part McLaughlin will be keen to see the recalled out-half using his big boot at every opportunity to pin Bath back before releasing his backs to inflict real damage.

Belfast Telegraph