Since the last time the Belfast side played, on 8 January, Leinster have stormed back to the top of the Conference A standings, and now lead their northern rivals by four points, leaving Ulster little room for error as both teams travel for away games this weekend.
Ulster head to Scotstoun to face Glasgow Warriors on Friday night, and Dan McFarland (coach) knows they need to grab every point on offer if they are to keep up with their Dublin rivals.
“The way we’ve got to approach it is that we’ve got five games, finishing out this section of the competition and really we need to win them all, probably with bonus points,” said McFarland.
“That narrows the mind and the focus to each game, as clichéd as it is, that’s what we had to do. When we go to Glasgow this weekend, we have to focus on them and what they have to offer.
“We’ll be playing the first game that we’ve played for five weeks, playing on an artificial surface and against a team that is capable of producing top quality rugby and are very dangerous.
“If we take our mind off what’s directly in front of us, it becomes a difficult proposition.
“There is an excitement to us coming out of this five-week break, in training there is a bounce in the step because there is a game at the end of the week and that is exciting for the coaches, the players and everyone here.”
Ulster welcome back Irish internationals Stuart McCloskey and Tom O’Toole from Six Nations duty as they look for victory in Scotland.
Leinster head to Wales – Rodney Parade in Newport – to face the Dragons, knowing they can’t afford to slip up either in the title race.
The men from Dublin have won their last eight games here while the Dragons are on a four game losing streak, so Leo Cullen’s side aren’t expecting too many troubles and will leave the pressure on Ulster in the Friday night games.
Johann van Graan’s Munster – away to Edinburgh in the Scottish capital this weekend – still have a 10 point lead in Conference B, and with the winners of the conference going straight into a final, they will be eagerly watching rivals Connacht.
Connacht host Cardiff in their fixture and while they will want to cut into Munster’s lead, three losses in their last five games has seen them lose some ground to the side from Limerick.
They have also tasted defeat three times in their last three outings on their home ground and will be desperate not to lose four in a row – the last time that happened was in 2013.
Munster have meanwhile won three of their last four visits to the Scottish capital and will be looking to extend their run and take one step closer to the final.
European places will be key when Scarlets take on Benetton and Ospreys host Zebre in the weekend’s other fixtures.
Friday, 19 February
21h35: Dragons vs Leinster
21h35: Glasgow vs Ulster
Saturday, 20 February
17h00: Scarlets vs Benetton
19h15: Ospreys vs Zebre
21h35: Connacht vs Cardiff
21h35: Edinburgh vs Munster