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Ulster's season hanging in the balance after Glasgow loss

By Jonathan Bradley

When Connacht last won in Belfast, JFK had just been elected President of the United States, Marilyn Monroe was finishing work on her final motion picture and Elvis Presley was in the charts with 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?'

More than 55 years have passed since that day in November 1960 but the westerners will rarely have travelled north in a more confident mood than they will on Friday when victory would effectively end the play-off hopes of Les Kiss' men.

The reckless 27-17 loss to Glasgow at Scotstoun on Friday denied even a losing bonus.

With just four games remaining, the margin for error is nil.

With the talent available, the province should not be on the outside looking in when the play-offs begin in mid-May.

The last time Ulster failed to clinch knockout rugby was 2010 and, with Scarlets beating Ospreys and Munster overcoming Zebre, the weekend past provided a huge blow to their chances of continuing that streak.

Kiss said: "We've got to make sure we can control the things we can do better with - but it's done, and we've now got to move on and make sure we've got Connacht in our sights."

There is no better story in the PRO12 than the rise of Pat Lam's men, making this an ill-timed must-win for the Kingspan outfit.

After the win over Leinster on Saturday that moved them four points clear at the top, Lam said: "The beauty of this team is that you don't own the jersey. A lot of people have gone before. It's your responsibility to know the role of whatever jersey you put on."

Ulster must also ensure they do not fall out of the Champions Cup spots and with Edinburgh still in the mix for sixth, Alan Solomons' men could not have a more contrasting task this weekend - they face Zebre.

With only one outcome likely at Murrayfield, Kiss' men know they must meet Connacht head on - the season depends on it.

Belfast Telegraph

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