Mark Bennett: 'Edinburgh have overachieved this season'

Mark Bennett races in to score a try for Edinburgh against Leinster
Mark Bennett scored a late try as Edinburgh overcame Leinster in February
Pro14: Edinburgh v Ulster
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Friday, 6 April Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Alba, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport Scotland website

Mark Bennett believes Edinburgh have exceeded all expectations this season - including those within the camp.

A win over Ulster at Murrayfield on Friday would secure Richard Cockerill's men a maiden league play-off.

They have never finished above eighth since the Pro12's inception seven years ago but have claimed some impressive scalps this term, including all four Irish provinces.

"It's obvious to everyone we have progressed," centre Bennett said.

"We've probably overachieved in terms of what anyone would have expected from us, even within the side.

"But we're now starting to build a real belief that we're a good side and we're competing, so it's exciting times."

Edinburgh, third in Conference B, hold a 13-point advantage over fourth-placed Ulster, albeit having played a game more.

The Irish province must win on Friday to preserve their hopes of catching Cockerill's side.

Edinburgh's five-game winning run came to an end with Saturday's European Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Cardiff Blues, but they have not been beaten on league duty since late December.

Edinburgh's Mark Bennett tries to break the Cardiff Blues line
Edinburgh lost in the Challenge Cup quarter-final in Bennett's seventh appearance for the club

"It wasn't a great performance by us, we seemed quite flat, which is against everything we've done all season," was Bennett's appraisal of the Blues defeat.

"It was a frustrating one, especially on such a big occasion. Luckily, we've got another opportunity this weekend to go out and put things right against an Ulster side who need to win.

"One of the goals we set at the start of the season was we want to gain the respect of the other teams and we've done that.

"We've beaten top sides, we've been consistent and performed week in, week out.

"We've put ourselves in this position, we've given ourselves the chance to do something special and get into the play-offs."

Bennett, 25, has endured a frustrating year, suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the 2017 Six Nations that sidelined him for nine months.

The 20-cap Scotland player swapped Glasgow Warriors for Edinburgh last summer but had to wait until 5 January to make his debut for the capital side.

"I'm not playing as well as I'd like to," he said. "I would obviously like to be doing a bit more than I have.

"I feel like I'm performing well enough, I'm defending really well, which is perhaps not what I'm known for, and the attack side is going to come.

"It's been a long time out and I don't think even personally I've appreciated how hard it was going to be to get going again. We're getting there."

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