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Ulster Rugby coach Mark Anscombe targets top two finish after mauling of the westerners

Ulster's frustration in the aftermath of their Heineken Cup demise at Saracens' hands turned them into men intent on making somebody pay. Heavily.

Connacht, whose record prior to this was 21 points from a possible 25, just happened to have the misfortune to be first up.

From the first minute to the last the westerners were subjected to a pounding before a crowd of 13,948 at Ravenhill where the grandstand, in use a week earlier remained closed to permit further work ahead of the stadium's official opening on May 2 when Leinster – who lost to Ospreys last night – come to town.

With a top two finish – and a home semi-final in the PRO12 play-offs – the target, coach Mark Anscombe was doing some sums and examining a few of the possible permutations at full-time, with particular attention on tonight's Munster v Glasgow Warriors game at Thomond Park.

"You watch these games and you look at who you want to win," he said. "Am I happy that Ospreys beat Leinster? I don't know; it allows us to catch Leinster but it keeps Ospreys in the picture.

"At the end of the day, if we're honest to ourselves, and we'd be lying if we said differently, we'd like to have a home semi-final. But to do that we at least have to win two out of our last three.

"Munster have got Glasgow tomorrow and if that goes Glasgow's way we're (still) second. And then we've got Leinster and if we win that we're first.

"So it is achievable and that's what we've got to do. A lot of people said (after Ulster's Heinken Cup exit), 'What's to go for now?' Well, the season started in September and it was our goal to be successful in this competition.

"As a group, we're not going to be together ever again in four or five weeks time, so let's get back up. We've talked, we believe we're good enough, so let's show we are and get something from it.

"That was a pretty good response out there today. Now we've got to rest up, look at our injury total and hopefully bounce back against Glasgow next week.

"It doesn't get any tougher, does it? It's like playing a Heineken Cup quarter-final for the next five weeks – that's what we've got."

And Anscombe admitted he is hoping Connacht can do Ulster a favour next weekend when they host Heineken Cup semi-finalists Munster in Galway.

"I know what we were going to do if we'd won last week," he said. "So it will be interesting to see what Munster do."

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