GUINNESS PRO12: Les Kiss wants Ulster players to focus on what they can control
With three full rounds of the regular league season left seven teams remain as realistic challengers for the semi-finals.
Ulster returned to fifth place in the league table after a short visit to the top four following Friday night’s vital 19-10 win over then leaders Connacht in Belfast.
But things had changed by Saturday evening with Leinster taking over at the top of the table following a 16-13 win over Munster.
That loss saw Munster drop from fourth to sixth.
Defending champions Glasgow Warriors continued to state their case as they climbed into fourth place following a bonus point win in Benetton Treviso.
They remain in Italy this week as they prepare to take on Zebre in their outstanding game and there is every reason to expect they will move into third place this weekend and the ladder will have a true picture.
Scarlets remained in third place in spite of a home 28-22 to an inform Cardiff Blues.
Apart from that game in Parma and Connacht and NG Dragons’ involvement in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals, the other PRO12 sides have a down week but Kiss insists the main core of his squad will be working hard in preparation for their next assignment away to Zebre on April 16.
With Munster also playing Connacht away and Glasgow at Scarlets, it is vital to get another winning result in the quest for the top four.
Kiss is not allowing himself to get drawn into the permutations at this stage.
“Teams are going to be stealing points off each other in the last three rounds,” he said.
“You will see a bit of movement this weekend and you will see some more next weekend around the top half of the table.
“You do not want to be getting hijacked by it all.
“For us it is focusing on what is in front of us and preparing for that challenge.”
“There are things we can control and move on.
“It what we do can put pressure on other people overall then we just have to keep our mind on the task.”
Kiss went on: “Next up for us is an away game at Zebre. We know they can be a real pain in the you know where.
“It is a tough game over there and we need to make sure we go over and do the deal.
“Against Treviso it was a tight first half and we opened up in the second. Zebre will be the same.
“They are also fighting for that last space in Europe so they will not lie down for us.
“We are fighting for a place in Europe as well and maybe getting a top four.
“We have to make sure we nail that first and foremost because the last two games will be tough in their own right against Leinster and Ospreys.
“For Zebre we have to make sure we are in the same place as we going into this game against Connacht.
“It is absolutely vital for us, but I know we have the leaders in the group to get us over the line,” he added.
Ulster ground out their win against Connacht with tries from captain, Rory Best and winger Craig Gilroy and eight points from the boot of Paddy Jackson.
Connacht dug in during the final 10 minutes - eight of which they were down to 13 men with two players in the sin-bin - to deny Ulster scoring any further points.