Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Rugby coach Neil Doak goes on the defensive over return to Glasgow

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster coach Neil Doak has said his players must improve upon their defensive performance of a week ago if they are to overcome Glasgow in the Pro12 semi-finals tonight.

Six days ago, although with a makeshift line-up, his side lost to the same opposition 32-10 and Doak believes that forcing the Warriors to be more inventive tonight is imperative.

"We didn't think we made them work overly hard for their scores (last week)," he said.

"That's what was disappointing. That has to be different."

While the team announced yesterday showed 11 changes to last Saturday's, both Ricky Lutton and Lewis Stevenson retained their places due to the injuries of Wiehahn Herbst and Franco van der Merwe.

Both impressed at Scotstoun last week and Doak has no qualms about throwing the pair into the fray again.

"Whether it's big opportunities or whether it's small opportunities you just have to make sure at this stage, when the games are so important, whatever player takes the field on Friday evening that they relish the opportunity and that they're ready to take it," he said yesterday.

With the ever-reliable Herbst - only Franco van der Merwe, Darren Cave and Louis Ludik have made more starts - having his campaign ended by a toe injury and Declan Fitzpatrick retired, the re-emergence of Lutton after an injury-plagued year proves particularly timely.

Tonight will be only the second appearance of the season for the tighthead after he got the nod to start ahead of Bronson Ross and Doak has been pleased with his efforts over the last fortnight.

"He has done pretty well and Bronson has done pretty well as well," said the former scrum-half.

"We decided to have a look at a couple of days of training, some set-piece work, and Ricky did particularly well.

"He hasn't played a lot of rugby at that level so we had to give him a bit of game time to see how he got on.

"It's pleasing from his point of view that he's got an opportunity and came in at the back end of the season."

Belfast Telegraph


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