Ulster need to be more clinical against Scarlets insists head coach Neil Doak
Guinness PRO12: Scarlets v Ulster (Friday, 7.35pm, live on BBC2 NI)
ULSTER head coach Neil Doak insists his men must be more clinical as they bid to bounce back from last week’s disappointing defeat to Leinster when they take on the in-form Scarlets on Friday.
Leo Cullen’s side came flying out of the blocks at the RDS to take the game by the scruff of the neck and a shell-shocked Ulster never recovered, Charles Piutau's late try preventing a whitewash as they fell to a 15-point defeat.
There are easier places to get back to winning ways than Parc y Scarlets - the Welsh outfit have lost just once in their last nine PRO12 games - though Ulster are boosted by the return of Ireland quartet Rory Best, Iain Henderson, Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall.
“We want to try and pick up as many points as we can,” said Doak.
“Traditionally, the top sides win most of their home games, but we have to go away here and get points out of it. We have a couple of guys coming back in there with a bit more experience, Besty, Hendo and Jacko, that’ll bolster things but the rest of the team can’t rely on those three coming back in.
“They have to do their job and the other 12 have to make sure they do their job and if we do get the opportunities this week it’s about making sure we finish off. The Scarlets are a good side, it’ll be a tough, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Best, Henderson, Jackson and Marshall are among nine new faces in the starting 15 after a number of players were ruled out by injury earlier this week.
Best will start at hooker and will be joined in an all-new front row by props Callum Black and Ross Kane, who will make his second senior start. Henderson will partner Kieran Treadwell in the second row, while Chris Henry is elevated from the bench to start in the back row alongside Clive Ross and Sean Reidy, who switches to number eight.
Louis Ludik and Jacob Stockdale come into the back three, where they are joined by captain Andrew Trimble. Marshall and Stuart McCloskey will line up in midfield, with Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson occupying the half back positions.
Ulster are not the only ones with injury worries though, as Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac has had to shuffle his pack for Friday night’s game. Fly-half Rhys Patchell misses out with an ankle problem, while Scott Williams, Samson Lee and Johnny McNicholl are all doubtful.
"Ulster are a good side, we expect a big game,” said the New Zealander.
“If you look at the points table ourselves, Glasgow and Ulster are probably at the moment fighting it out for the fourth position, unless there's a change in form.
"It's a massive game in the context of that push for top-four - both teams will want a result from this one, definitely."
Scarlets: J McNicholl, L Williams, J Davies, H Parkes, S Evans, D Jones, G Davies, R Evans, K Owens, W Kruger, J Ball, T Price, L Rawlins, J Davies, J Barclay; Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, N Thomas, J Macleod, W Boyde, A Davies, A Thomas, S Hughes
Ulster: L Ludik, A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale, P Jackson, P Marshall; C Black, R Best, R Kane, K Treadwell, I Henderson, C Ross, C Henry, S Reidy; Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, J Simpson, F van der Merwe, P Browne, D Shanahan, B Herron, T Bowe