GUINNESS PRO12: The next 80 minutes in front of Ulster is all that matters: Les Kiss

Ulster's Director of Rugby - Les Kiss
Ulster's Director of Rugby - Les Kiss

Director of rugby, Les Kiss, will tell his Ulster players that the only thing that matters on Saturday afternoon is beating the Ospreys in Liberty Stadium.

A bonus-point win secures a place in the Guinness PRO12 semi-finals, while any other result will leave them waiting on the outcome of other games.

As the PRO12 goes into its final round of the regular league campaign, all six games kicking off simultaneously at 3pm, Ulster must deliver a similar performance that saw them defeat Leinster 30-6 at Kingspan Stadium last week.

But even a similar result may not be enough to carry them through to the league semi-finals in a fortnight’s time.

Only the top five teams in the league can make the play-offs and Ulster, who are in fourth place lie four points behind Leinster but only a point ahead of Scarlets.

A try-scoring bonus point win would guarantee Ulster fourth place - or even better if Leinster or one of Connacht and Glasgow who meet in Galway were to slip up.

However, a straight forward win would mean Scarlets would have to lose to Munster.

There are also permutations around Ulster and Scarlets.

The worse case scenario for Ulster in the event that they and Scarlets both lost, would be that the latter picked up a losing bonus point which would send them through on having won more games throughout the campaign.

Of the weekend ahead Kiss said: “It is set for an exciting finish for everyone. Our game is massive, but then so are all the others because everyone bar one side have something at stake.

“We know what our situation is and if you look at the Ospreys they are desperately seeking a bonus point win which could still secure them European Champions Cup qualification for next season.”

For Ulster’s part, Kiss said it was a matter of going out and delivering another one-off performance.

“For a while now each weekend has been about going out and delivering a performance because at this stage of the season it is the only one that matters.

“When it was Connacht, when it was Zebre and when it was Leinster, that was the only game that mattered.

“The jersey that you wear now is the only jersey that matters.

“Our mission or cause that we face this weekend is the only cause that matters.

“It is all wrapped around what you do in the next 70 minutes on the pitch. That is what it is about.

“We understand intuitively for the following week to count that we have got to deliver on the 80 minutes in front of us,” said Kiss.

Kiss has made only one expected change from that which started against Leinster last weekend for the trip to Swansea.

Irish international Craig Gilroy was an eleventh hour withdrawal from the game with sickness, but he has fully recovered and starts against the Welsh side.

Sam Underhill will start for Ospreys coming into the back-row in place of Olly Cracknell while prop Nicky Smith starts after passing return to play protocols after a head injury.


Ospreys: Dan Evans, Ben John, Owen Watkin, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb (captain): Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Rynier Bernardo, Rory Thornton, Dan Lydiate, Sam Underhill, James King

Replacements: Scott Otten, Gareth Thomas, Aaron Jarvis, Joe Bearman, Olly Cracknell, Brendon Leonard, Sam Davies, Tom Grabham

Ulster: J Payne; A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Best (capt), R Lutton, P Browne, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy.

Replacements: R Herring, K McCall, A Warwick, R Diack, R Wilson, P Marshall, S Olding, D Cave.