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Ulster have what it takes to progress in Europe, insists Louis Ludik

By Michael Sadlier

Even the usually reliable Louis Ludik had issues staying on message when it came to being as upbeat as possible.

Another defeat, which after the weekend has left still sixth-placed Ulster now eight points adrift of a PRO12 play-off place - though still with that game in hand - had only come with added baggage.

The game at the Scarlets - Ulster's seventh defeat in 11 games - felt like one that had got away with Ludik and co losing control of a rain-drenched encounter which had, up until the hour mark, looked like it was theirs.

And, just to add to it all, Sean Reidy had been unfortunate but had still fallen foul of the new zero tolerance laws on high tackles which had, in turn, brought a penalty try and conversion to tilt the scoreboard against Ulster.

"Sometimes things go against you," said Ludik after Les Kiss's squad had, yet again, fallen short at the Parc y Scarlets though they had made off with a losing bonus point.

"It's a bit frustrating that we have to wait for a month now to get back to PRO12 action," added the versatile 30-year-old who was at full-back last Friday for the rested Charles Piutau.

No time to dwell on it, though, as two more season-defining games await in the European Champions Cup, with Sunday's trip to Exeter Chiefs to be followed by hosting Bordeaux six days later.

And there is no letting up in the pressure on Ulster as their only possible salvation in Europe means that they have to deliver two victories, preferably with bonus points.

"It's another away game," stated Ludik of what will be Ulster's third straight match requiring travel.

"But we've got a point to prove," he added, which the under-pressure side know all about with only three away wins to their name in this campaign.

However getting a result at Exeter, who are pretty much out of things at the foot of Pool Five but are in great form in the Premiership, does look a tall order.

"I think we owe the supporters a lot and we have to go out there and make them proud," stated Ludik who missed Ulster's narrow home win over the Chiefs, back in October, due to a facial injury.

"For us it's a must-win game and they are playing very well at the moment and are currently third in the Premiership."

Naturally enough, Ludik believes Ulster can create an upset and come away from Sandy Park with the required result to keep them alive in Europe.

"We played there in pre-season (and lost) and we played them again at home in the Champions Cup (winning) and both times it was extremely difficult," Ludik admitted.

"We know they will want to finish the pool stages strongly."

While many feel Ulster are in no shape to harbour ambitions of rescuing their European season, Ludik won't entertain negativity.

"Anything can happen, particularly in this competition," he said.

"We'll not give up without a fight."

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