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Cockerill keen to build on stunning win over Leinster


By Jonathan Bradley

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill believes the high stakes for tonight's showdown with Ulster in Kingspan Stadium (7.35pm kick-off) shows the progress his side has made.

The former England and Leicester Tigers hooker is in his first season in the Scottish capital and his team enter this evening's game off the back of a big win over Leinster and just three points behind their hosts who occupy the final play-off spot in Conference B.

With Cockerill having rejuvenated an outfit that finished ninth in the standings last season - they also have a Challenge Cup quarter-final to look forward to next month - the two-time Premiership winning coach is encouraged by what he has seen this season.

"What's pleasing is that we're still in the fight in the league and we're actually playing for big stakes," he said. "We're in a quarter-final in Europe, which is great, and we're going to Ulster with eight games to go with a chance of making the play-offs - so it's a huge game.

"If we lose, it's not the end of our play-off hopes. For us it's nice, as a team, that we're putting ourselves in the position where we're actually competing for play-offs, which is a step forward."

Having yet to face off this year, the two sides will meet again in April at Myreside, but while Ulster have struggled of late in Scotland, their record against Edinburgh in Kingspan Stadium is strong having won the last eight of these fixtures, as well as a Heineken Cup semi-final in Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

As such, Cockerill is happy to hand the tag of favourites to his hosts this evening.

"We've got to go to the Kingspan, where they'll be sold out and have a very partisan crowd," he said.

"They have a good team and very strong squad, and they've had their difficulties for obvious reasons, but now it's for us to go there and front up.

"I expect Ulster to be favourites and I expect them to be confident, but I'm also confident and I believe in our playing group.

"I thought we took a step forward on Friday night against Leinster.

"Maybe 12 months ago we wouldn't have come through that."

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