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'We've put pressure on others to deliver' - Ulster face waiting game

The northern province are happy they’ve done all they can.

ULSTER HAVE A team day in Slieve Donard tomorrow, when the players and their families will gather for activities, food and a bit of fun.

There will be farewells said to the Ireland internationals who are heading away to Six Nations camps, but it’s highly likely that Les Kiss and his men will be regularly sneaking inside to check on the television.

Paddy Jackson and Nick Williams celebrate Paddy Jackson with man of the match Nick Williams. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ulster have done as much as they can in their hope of earning a Champions Cup quarter-final with a 56-3 win over Oyonnax in Belfast, but their fate depends on results elsewhere.

If the northern province don’t end up making the play-offs after this weekend’s action, they will look back on the failure to take a single match point from the two Pool 1 meetings with Saracens and the lack of a bonus point away to Oyonnax as costly.

However, eight tries against the French side today was just about the best they could have hoped for.

“We knew the mission at the beginning of the week,” said Ulster director of rugby Less Kiss post-match at Kingspan Stadium.

Previous games probably we didn’t nail a couple of the points that we probably could have got, which would have made it easier but in the context of this week we’ve put pressure on the others to deliver. We’ll sit back and wait.”

56 points and eight tries is an impressive tally, although such was the weakness of Oyonnax’s defence that it could have been even more. Ulster didn’t manage to score after Jared Payne’s 61st-minute try, but Kiss has few regrets.

“I would have loved a couple more, but I don’t want to be too greedy. We had eight tries from different people. The important thing was to have both sides of our games switched on so we could stretch the score out.

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Les Kiss Kiss will be anxiously checking scores all weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“At the other end, we didn’t want to let them in and every team will have purple patches. We kept to a points difference that may influence things in the end.”

Down in the changing rooms, there was a strange feeling among the Ulster players. Normally so free-scoring a victory would be greeted with hearty celebrations, but these men must now wait anxiously to learn if they will play European rugby in April.

“Whatever happened today, we wouldn’t have know what was going to happen elsewhere,” said scrum-half Paul Marshall.

“From our point if view, we’ve done all we can. If you’d offered us a 56-3 before the game, we probably would have taken it. We’ve done our job and now it’s a case of waiting and seeing what happens elsewhere.”

* Les Kiss’ men need two of the following four to occur – Leinster to beat Wasps this afternoon in Coventry, the Scarlets to defeat Northampton in Wales this evening [KO 5.30pm], Leicester to win against Stade Français in Paris tomorrow [KO 1pm Irish time], Exeter to take victory at home to the Ospreys tomorrow [KO 3.15pm].

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Murray Kinsella

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