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Kingspan win gives hope, but not a lot

 

By Jonathan Bradley

While Friday night's win over Ospreys saw Ulster win back-to-back games for a first time since December, results elsewhere did little to help their PRO14 cause.

Edinburgh welcomed an understrength Scarlets side to Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon looking to make up for the disappointment of losing to Ulster a week prior.

And they firmly put that result in the rear-view mirror with an eight-try, 52-14 demolition of the league champions, who had at least one eye on this weekend's Champions Cup semi-final with Leinster in the Aviva Stadium.

The bonus-point win means that even if Ulster take a maximum of 10 points from their two remaining games, Richard Cockerill's side need only a losing bonus point from their final fixture to secure a place in the end of season play-offs for a first time.

That would leave Ulster seeking the solace of at least knowing they had their spot in next season's Champions Cup secured, but that remains in doubt.

Finishing outside the play-offs, but still in their current position of fourth, would leave them in a play-in game to be a part of that competition, likely against the Ospreys at home in a repeat of last Friday's fixture.

There is still work to be done in that regard though after Benetton produced one of the shock results of the season to beat Leinster in Dublin.

The Italians have been building well all season, and Leo Cullen's men have that Champions Cup semi to think about, but it was still thought the hosts would have more than enough to avoid a first home defeat to an Italian side.

Not so, and Benetton's win leaves them trailing Ulster by a point.

One more win still required for Jono Gibbes' men.

Belfast Telegraph

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