THE URC regular season is now into the final straight and Ulster will seek to remain in the hunt for second place when they host the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday at Kingspan Stadium (7.35pm).
A place in the playoffs is already assured, but finishing as high up the table as possible is of benefit with home advantage for quarters-finals and semi-finals still up for grabs.
At present, Ulster are five adrift of the second-place Stormers who are at the RDS to face a Leinster side that remarkably holds a 100 per cent record to date, so it is possible that a bonus point win at Ravenhill on Saturday will see Dan McFarland's side draw level on points with two rounds of fixtures to go.
Ulster will be in Dublin to face Leinster in the European Champions Cup next week, so heading down the M1 with a win behind them would do wonders for confidence, yet getting into a winning habit at the business end of the season is imperative with the lure of silverware.
“Top two is our target,” stressed Forwards' Coach, Roddy Grant.
“There is a big difference between second and third in the big picture, so it's very important we are going for that. We’ll try to put ourselves in the best position.
📣 Team News— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) March 24, 2023
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“Every game now is important. We are going into four big games and want to continue the form we showed with two good wins before the break. We feel refreshed, had a good week of training and everybody is raring to go this Saturday.
“Bulls are a good side, full of big physical guys and our focus is fully on them.”
The visitors have endured a difficult run of late with four successive defeats seeing them drop down into sixth place.
However, they have no shortage of talent within their ranks and will be keen to arrest their decline according to Ulster scrum-half Nathan Doak who is expecting the Bulls to be a wounded animal that arrives in Belfast.
“The Bulls are hurting, they could be a bit of a wounded animal, they will be looking to come here and turn their season around,” he agreed.
“A bit like ourselves not too long ago, maybe we turned ours around quicker than theirs.
“We touched on it today and know that we are in the business end of the season.”