Ulster look for home comfort against Connacht

Ulster head coach Neil Doak
Ulster head coach Neil Doak

Ulster will look to bank on their home record on Friday night as they look to end a poor run in the Guinness PRO12.

Two success losses on the road against Munster and Ospreys saw Ulster slip outside the top four to fifth place.

Tonight at the Kingspan Stadium (6.45pm) they face sixth place Connacht who are four points behind and eyeing up another big scalp.

Connacht have not won in Belfast since 1960 and Ulster are intent on making sure that does not change.

However, after imploding defensively against Ospreys last weekend before losing 31-20, spurning numeorus chances and not quite looking themselves, Ulster are under the spotlight tonight.

Ulster have had to ride out a tidal wave of injury problems, missing several front line players and tonight they are without British Lions duo, Rory Best and Tommy Bowe, while Ruan Pienaar was an unexpected addition to the list.

However, the return of Paddy Jackson and Wiehahn Herbest, the latter in particular being important in the pack, Ulster are able to put out a strong side to get them back on the ladder.

Head coach, Neil Doak, said: “We’ve defended pretty well this year and, ironically, the games we’ve played against the Ospreys before haven’t had any tries, but it just went the complete opposite.

“At times you maybe do things to try and effect change when if you just do your fundamentals and your basics a little bit more accurately then that effects change.

“We just need to be a little more accurate.

“I suppose on the back of a couple of losses certain people are going to get a little bit edgy and think ‘do I want to do that?, do I want to try that?’ and you do maybe get a bit nervous about going outside things and looking at other options.”


Ulster: L Ludik; C Gilroy, D Cave, L Marshall, P Nelson, P Jackson, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst, D Tuohy, F vd Merwe, R Diack, C Ross, R Wilson.

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, D Fitzpatrick, A O’Connor, S Reidy, M Heaney, I Humphreys, S Olding.

Connacht: D Leader; D Poolman, B Aki, D McSharry, M Healy, J Carty, J Cooney; R Loughney, T McCartney, F Bealham, Q Roux, A Muldowny, J Muldoon (capt), W Faloon, G Naoupu.

Replacements: D Hefferenan, D Buckley, R Ah You, U Dillane, E Masterson, K Marmion, C Ronaldson, M Muliaina.