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Scarlets loss could galvanise bid for play-offs: Wilson

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's Roger Wilson says his side must use yesterday's 21-20 home defeat to the Scarlets as a "wake-up call".

The back-rower was making his 200th appearance for the province but it was not a performance to remember as the Welsh visitors took advantage of defensive lapses and missed opportunities from their hosts.

Tries from Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall were in vain for Les Kiss' side who dropped from first to fourth in the PRO12 over the weekend.

Wilson is aware Ulster can now ill-afford many more losses in the race for a play-off spot.

"It's pretty tight between six or seven teams so we really can't have too many more slip-ups," said the 34-year-old. "This is a wake-up call. You need to win your home games and we didn't.

"Next week (against Cardiff) we need to get a big result."

After Ulster won three games in a row while far from their best in recent weeks, Wilson mused that the defeat was overdue.

"It was probably coming," he reflected. "We hadn't been performing well. We've got plenty of time to put it right but maybe we'll look back and think that this was what we needed.

"We're disappointed and we've been told to have a good look at the video individually so we can take some ownership."

Wilson highlighted Ulster's slow start, defensive problems and an inability to make the most of visits to the opposition 22 as the reasons for what is the side's third home defeat of the campaign in all competitions - two more than last season.

"We didn't give ourselves a chance from the beginning," he said. "We were very slow out of the blocks, defensively more so than anything. The defence sets the tone for everything.

"It's been a strong point this season and you don't become a bad team overnight. It's difficult in those conditions to chase a game. It was far too soft.

"One of the areas we've talked about already is we weren't clinical enough in the opposition 22. That's something we definitely need to work on."

The result hardly left Wilson in the mood to celebrate joining Andrew Trimble as the only players to make 200 appearances and he admitted that ending Ulster's silverware drought is more important than any individual accolade.

"It was a bit like Trimby's 200th (in the home loss to Munster), we just didn't get the performance," he said. "It's a nice milestone personally, but what's far more important is winning.

"You look back at the end on, not how many games you played, but silverware. (The highlight for me) was winning the Celtic League. In the last few years we've been in good positions and not delivered. For a team that's been right up there in Europe, we should have delivered more.

"We need to step up; we're still in a good position."

The Belfast Telegraph understands that winger Rory Scholes is set to leave Ulster for PRO12 rivals Edinburgh next season. The 22-year-old, currently injured, has scored five tries this campaign but is out of contract in the summer. He would join former Ulster team-mate Mike Allen in the Scottish capital.

Belfast Telegraph

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