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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

Cullen wants 7-try Leinster to be even more clinical

The province scored seven tries for the second week running, but the head coach was annoyed by the chances they left behind.

Leo Cullen's Leinster scored seven tries for the second week running.
Leo Cullen's Leinster scored seven tries for the second week running.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

LEO CULLEN WAS quick to play down another hugely impressive Leinster performance after watching his side stick seven tries on Northampton Saints for the second week running.  

Seven days on from a comprehensive 43-16 victory at Franklin’s Gardens, Leinster were even more dominant as they recorded a 50-21 victory at Aviva Stadium which guarantees their place at the top of Pool 1 of the Heineken Champions Cup with two games to spare.

A blistering start saw Leinster race into 17-0 lead with just 11 minutes on the clock, and while Northampton managed to swoop for three tries of their own at the Aviva Stadium, the result never looked in doubt.

However Cullen was keen to stress that there are plenty of areas where his team can still look to improve.

“We had some chances today I thought, that we didn’t quite capitalise on,” Cullen said.

“When Northampton were down to 13 men [during the first half], they held us out at that stage and get a penalty. There was a couple of bits in the first half, even though we scored four tries in the first half there was other chances that we had. 

“Defensively, it’s never great conceding three tries, so there are bits to do there. I thought Northampton, in their credit, they are missing a lot of players at the moment through injury, a lot of young guys out there, but they were very committed. Very aggressive around the ruck. I think that’s what teams do, try and slow other teams up, be aggressive in that contact area, which there is a bit of risk/reward in. If they go aggressive, they don’t stop it [the attack], it means they commit a lot of players into that space, so there is going to be space somewhere else. 

“It was a little bit mixed. I thought today, even people are talking in quite positive terms about the performance, there’s bits in there where you are like, ‘Hmm, we could get ourselves in trouble if we deliver that again.’

“On the flip-side, it’s a win, it keeps us trucking along, and we turn our attention to other matters, back to the Guinness Pro14.”

Cullen also confirmed that Ross Byrne was removed as a precaution after suffering a dead leg in the second half. The out-half, who started in place of the injured Johnny Sexton, kicked 11 points before two heavy tackles in quick succession left him requiring treatment on the field. With Sexton already out until some time in the new year, Cullen was quick to remove Byrne ahead of the upcoming run of Guinness Pro14 inter-provincial derbies, with Ciarán Frawley coming on for his European debut.

Leinster will issue a more comprehensive injury update on Monday morning, but for now Byrne is not a concern.

“With Ross, just a dead leg for him, Ciarán comes in and I thought he does well,” said Cullen.

“Like, it’s a massive step up [for Frawley], 21 years of age. Another positive step in his progression. Ross obviously has been a big player for us, obviously with Johnny out now, [we'll] see how long that is. I’m not sure, [but] hopefully it’s not going to be too long. But yeah, Ross is up and about in the dressing room there. He’s okay. 

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