Pro14: Ulster gear up for Conference A showdown with Leinster

Ulster will have to be “absolutely on the money” if they are to beat Leinster and take control of Pro14 Conference A on Friday, says coach Dan McFarland.

Leinster’s loss to Connacht means Ulster are now the only side with an undefeated league record this season.

It was a first lost in 26 Pro14 games.

An Ulster win would put them in the ascendancy to reach March’s final, with a superior points advantage and number of matches won, even if Leinster take full points from their games in hand.

Prior to their shock defeat on Saturday, three-in-a-row champions had been on a run stretching back to April 2019 when they lost to Ulster in a dead rubber.

This season’s competition has been shortened to just 16 rounds to accommodate the new Rainbow Cup in the spring, and there will be no semi-finals with the two conference winners meeting in the showpiece on 27 March.

“It’s a situation where if we could possibly win down there, we’ve put ourselves in a really, really good position for kicking on,” said McFarland, speaking after his side’s win over Munster.

“The question you’re really asking (is) are we a better team than Leinster?

“We’d have to beat them at home as well, later on.

“Are we good enough? We can do it, definitely.”

McFarland was speaking before Connacht’s victory at the RDS, however it remains true that Ulster will travel south on Friday as underdogs.

While Leinster have had two games postponed due to Covid-19, Ulster’s schedule has so far gone uninterrupted meaning this weekend’s game will be their last in the competition until late February.

Leinster Ulster
Leinster’s defeat by Connacht leaves them 10 points behind Ulster having played two games fewer

“In terms of the probability on that, you only have to ask the bookies,” McFarland said.

“Have a look at what the odds are next week, they’ll tell you. They’re not going to predict us to win down there next week are they?

“Are we capable of winning down there? 100%.

“What it means is we’re going to have to be absolutely on the money, which means we’re going to have to be better than this week.

“We know that anyway, it is what it is. Exciting.”