Assistant coach, Neil Doak, has urged Ulster to prove they are worthy of their place at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 when they take on Scarlets at Ravenhill on Friday night.
The Irish Province could finish this group of league fixtures with effectively a nine-point buffer before they head into European competition and then have a break from action.
Ulster lost their 100 per cent PRO12 record last week in Limerick, going down 24-10 against Provincial rivals Munster – but maintained their nine-point gap at the top following Scarlets’ defeat by The Ospreys.
Last month in Europe, Mark Anscombe’s side surrendered their unbeaten run in all competition with a home defeat to Northampton Saints, but they bounced back immediately in the PRO12 with a home win against Leinster.
“That is exactly what we have to do on Friday night” said backs coach, Doak.
“This group of three matches at the end of this block of fixtures could be the defining period of our season.
“We have shown we can do it (come back from a loss) and we must put on a solid performance at Ravenhill so that we then get the result we deserve.
“We are in a great position in the Rabo at the minute and we can still be after Friday, but we have to earn it.”
Doak added: “Scarlets can be a dangerous side, they have scored a lot of points this season and have a fairly potent backline. They are a serious threat.
“They are in many ways like us, gutsy and have come together well. Simon Easterby (Scarlets coach) has built a nice little culture there, building from within and putting some things in place. They will prove stern opposition – and they are not in second place for no reason, they have earned it.
“They are our nearest opposition and we know it will be a tough game.”
Ulster make eight changes to the side which lost at Thomond Park last week, but that was to be expected as several front liners were given some down time and there was also an Irish National Camp on in Dublin for the internationals.
However, forwards Rory Best and Iain Henderson are not included in the panel as they are ‘rested’ again, while fullback Jared Payne is understood to have broken down during the captain’s run as a niggly groin strain continues to hamper his fitness.