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Poor Ulster left facing an uphill struggle: Les Kiss defiant but Glasgow loss hits play-off ambition

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss is refusing to give up on a PRO12 play-off place despite watching his side lose 27-17 to Glasgow at Scotstoun, having surrendered an eight-point lead.

Trailing 17-9, the champions hit back with two quick-fire second-half tries last night and Ulster's top-four chances were dealt another late blow by a Stuart Hogg penalty that denied the men from the Kingspan even a losing bonus point.

The crushing defeat saw Ulster drop to fifth in the table with Munster leapfrogging them into fourth after beating Zebre.

Glasgow will also go above Ulster if they, as expected, beat the same opposition in their game in hand.

Despite a daunting fixture list to come over the season's last four games - including home clashes against PRO12 leaders Connacht and second-placed Leinster - Kiss still thinks Ulster can be playing knockout rugby in May.

"We have to move on and we've got Connacht in our sights now," he said of next week's visit from the table-toppers.

"It'll be interesting to see what happens (this evening) between Connacht and Leinster.

"It becomes bigger and bigger each week and we've got to find our centre and make sure we stay focused and deliver against Connacht."

The Australian left little doubt as to his opinion of Glasgow's first try when Finn Russell's pass to Hogg appeared to be forward before the full-back scored.

"Sometimes you have to be able to rise above certain factors in the game that you can't control completely and we just couldn't," he stated.

"Some of the errors we made invited them back into that game and that's very disappointing.

"They scored points that we were disappointed with.

"The kick that they scored off, it's probably up to people to work out whether it's a forward pass, but that's what you have to live with."

With this another game at Scotstoun that slipped away after a promising start, following a similar pattern to games last season, Kiss was left to rue openings that went begging and a penalty count that was heavily tilted in the favour of hosts Glasgow.

"We have to look at the things that we can control and make sure we're better," said Kiss.

"We'll have a look at the penalties; 13-4 is a massive count.

"Overall we have to build on the positives."

On the night Iain Henderson returned from long-term injury, Kiss revealed that both Alan O'Connor and Nick Williams seemed sure to miss time with knocks sustained in the first-half.

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