Darren Cave focused on what Ulster need to do to reach target

Ulster's Darren Cave pictured at the Kingspan Stadium
Ulster's Darren Cave pictured at the Kingspan Stadium

For Ulster the permutations are simple win their last two games in the Guinness PRO12 and they will have home advantage in the play-offs.

However considering they face second place Munster at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday and then to to leaders Glasgow in their final game it is easier said than done.

Ireland centre Darren Cave is confident Ulster can do achieve their goal and know if take care of business they won’t have to worry what anyone else is doing or be concerned about other results going their way.

“With the way the fixtures are set Glasgow have a couple of hard games and with how tight it is at the top the safest thing to do is not to worry about what everyone else is going to doing,” said Cave.

“There is every chance that winning one of those two games won’t be enough to get us a home semi.

“We cannot be concerned about bonus points or anything else, we just have to make sure we win the next two games.”

Ulster dominated the league in 2013 finishing top after the regular season and beat the Scarlets in the semi final but due to construction work at the old Ravenhill they had to forfeit the right to hold the final in Belfast and move it to the RDS.

This year PRO12 organisers have gone for a fixed venue final and the home of Ulster Rugby - the Kingspan Stadium - has been chosen after a strong bid from Team Belfast.

It is obviously a huge incentive for Ulster and even moreso now that the Province has ensured they are in the semi-finals irrespective of how the last weeks of the regular season pan out.

“At the minute Saturday is our last home game,” said Cave. “I’d ideally like a home semi. A home final carrot has been dangling there for a few months now and we are pretty determined to do everything we can to make sure that there is not a final at the Kingspan Stadium minus Ulster Rugby.

“It was a very unfortunate series of events that led to us not winning last time around.

“We were in the final, Leinster were at home and we still had the chance to beat them.

“It was slightly harder because it was away from home and there is still some hurt from that.

“Leinster have finished my season four years in a row before this one and there has been plenty of disappointment.”

Ulster go into the game full of confidence after derby wins over Connacht and Leinster.

“We have been pretty focussed over the last while and that is not going to change,” added Cave.

“All the talk has been of how tough our run in is. We’ve chipped off a couple of victories, we are in the semis and we’re not worried who is doing what.

“I would always take stock and make sure I’m not enjoying the ride too much and much sure I’m not taking it for granted.

“The Irish derbies are incredible and with Connacht playing well this year they have been that bit more special.

“One of the best things about the position I’m in is being able to be friendly with players from the other provinces and then lock horns.

“It is something very special about the game of rugby, look at the boys holding the Six Nations trophy and the scenes from Murrayfield with hugs and selfies and then on Saturday they will be trying to rip each other’s heads off and that is part of the beauty of the game.”

Munster won the corresponding fixture at the start of the season by a point at Thomond Park, although Ulster were a failed conversion away from snatching a victory.

They arrive in Belfast this week two points behind league leaders Glasgow and one ahead of Ulster.

“There are plenty of implications,” said Cave.

“They are a team who have been on a good run of form and to think we took four points of Leinster and the other top three all got five in their last games, the Ospreys closed the gap and we went down to third.

“You could lose sleep thinking about a bonus point this weekend but we are just going to try and win the match and take it into next week.

“We were unfortunate not to win that game (at Munster), we took a bit of a lead then the wheels came off then we finished strong.

“Both teams were missing a few internationals so it is hard to tell, playing them here last year was close as well.

“We ran up a lead then they came back and we were close to getting the bonus point try but had to hold on for the win.

“We’ve had a few good battles with them over the years and it will be another one this week. There could be potentially another one in a few weeks,” added Cave.

Munster have taken a maximum 15 points from their last three games and Cave knows Ulster must nullify their back line.

“Since the Six Nations Simon Zebo has looked sharp, Felix Jones has done well but for me the standout has been Keith Earls since he has come back from injury.

“He has always been talented, he has always been a class act.

“At the minute everything seems to be dropping for him and he can’t stop scoring, his form is something we are very aware of.

“Connor Murray has devolved nicely into one of the best nines in certainly the northern hemisphere and probably not far off in the world.

“He brings a lot to Munster he carries well and he brings a lot of problems for the opposition.

“His box kicking has become a massive part of the game in the last few years, you can see the success Ruan (Pienaar) has had with an incredible kicking game and I think it is something Connor has developed and Munster and Ireland have used it very effectively.”