'No bigger challenge' than Leinster - Lowry

Mike Lowry carries against Scarlets
Ulster have won three games in a row but are still unsure of their play-off place [Getty Images]

Ulster's Mike Lowry says there is "no bigger challenge" than facing Leinster.

Ulster welcome the Champions Cup finalists to Kingspan Stadium on Saturday for what is their penultimate fixture of the United Rugby Championship [URC] campaign.

After a bonus point win over Scarlets on Saturday, Ulster are in sixth place in the league table with only the top eight advancing to the play-offs.

Leinster are in second after their own weekend win over Welsh opposition, running in nine tries against the Ospreys in Dublin, and will take on Toulouse in the Champions Cup final seven days on from their trip to Belfast.

“There is no bigger challenge than Leinster," said Lowry, who made his 100th Ulster appearance in Llanelli.

"An interpro derby, it will be a special occasion. Hopefully the Kingspan is sold out.”

Ulster are five points ahead of Connacht and the Lions, in ninth and 10th respectively, and a win this weekend could be enough to seal their play-off place.

“It is another massive game for us," added Lowry. "The table is so tight with victories for teams that are in and around us this weekend, too.

“Every point is vital now and it is getting to that stage of the season where we’re fighting for play-offs and every game is nearly a play-off game.

“I can’t wait. We love interpros and thankfully we are at home again.”

With a trip to Munster to come after hosting Leinster, Ulster could ill afford any slip up against a struggling Scarlets side led by their former assistant coach Dwayne Peel.

Ulster trailed 6-3 at half-time with each of their four tries coming after the turn in the 31-20 win.

"We needed the five points," said Lowry. "It was a nice day to play rugby and thankfully we got over the line against a good Scarlets side that wanted to throw the ball about.

“We have to credit Scarlets, they really had nothing to play for and we knew how good an attacking side they would be.

“The coaches that are there now used to coach us, so they know us inside out.

“It was a tough game. It was hot conditions and they had us on the back foot for the first 20 minutes or so but we were very calm.

"We always knew what we were capable of and once we got into our shape and playing in the right areas of the pitch, we knew what we could do and thankfully we got over the line a few times and got the bonus point.”

Mike Lowry applauds the Ulster support
Lowry made his debut for Ulster in 2018 [Getty Images]

The win represented Lowry's 100th Ulster outing after debuting against Munster in 2018.

“It is such an honour," he added. "A few boys gave a few nice words before the game and I sort of started tearing up myself. That just shows how good a group the boys are.

“They made it really special for me and I can’t thank everyone enough, family, friends, the team, support staff.

“It is an absolute privilege to lay for Ulster and hopefully [there are] many more to come.”