GUINNESS PRO12: Neil Doak craves away success with Ulster

Paul Marshall dives over for a try against Cardiff
Paul Marshall dives over for a try against Cardiff

With four away games in five weeks, Ulster head coach Neil Doak is looking to find a way of taking the side’s impressive home form onto the road.

Although Friday night’s 24-17 win over Cardiff Blues in the Guinness PRO12 at Kingspan Stadium was far from impressive performance wise, in terms of results the Irish Province registered their third straight try scoring bonus point win at in Belfast this season.

It also equalled their PRO12 unbeaten record of 14 successive home wins.

However, Ulster’s two games on the road this season – Scarlets and Edinburgh – produced below par performances.

A trip to Limerick’s Thomond Park on Friday night to face Munster is probably not the ideal place to be looking to set the record straight.

That is followed by another tough test in Newport against Dragons before the opening European Champions Cup game in France against Oyannaux.

The visit of Saracens on November 20 for the second round of games in Europe will be a stern examination before finishing a difficult run of games back on the road to Leinster in the PRO12.

During the Rugby World Cup period the fixtures have been disjointed and Ulster’s performances have matched that.

Against Cardiff on Friday night they had trailed 9-5 going into the closing minutes before a yellow card to Josh Turnbull saw the tide turn in the home favour and they led 12-9 at the break and soon had the bonus point secured.

Against better opposition, another first half performance like that and Ulster would have been blown away.

Paddy Jackson and Darren Cave, who saw little time in the green shirt during the World Cup with Ireland, returned to the fold and came off the bench.

Chris Henry is expected to be involved in the game at Munster this weekend while Rory Best and Iain Henderson should return for the Dragons match.

Jared Payne and Tommy Bowe are already ruled out through injury, both unlikely to be seen in the white jersey until post Christmas.

Doak’s frustration with the away form is clear.

“We have got to take this home form on the road,” he said while acknowledging the bonus point win over the Blues came after a scrappy performance.

“Players have got to realise that we want to build what we have here (Kingspan) into something away from home.

“It is going to be a massive game next week. Both teams may have a few guys back (from Ireland) to add to the mix.

“Thomond Park is not an easy place to go to, we have got to make sure we look after ourselves over this weekend and get the preparation right.”

Doak added: “I really do not know why we cannot do it on the road.

“We have talked about some strategies. Do we change things? Do we look at certain plays we are going to use to get us into the game?

“I am trying a few things to put us in that right frame of mind.

“When you are away from home early doors you have to get points on the board and put teams under pressure that way.

“We have to hold our discipline early on,” he added.