Advertisement
Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Dan Sheridan/INPHO Isa Nacewa and Charles Piutau share a New Year's Eve greeting.
# Pro12
Cullen laments a touch of rust and panic, but content with win over Ulster
The head coach felt players were a touch rusty in training after being given a pre-Christmas break.

ON HOME SOIL, with three tries on the board and a 22-point cushion already built with 37 minutes to play; privately, you would expect Leo Cullen to demand a bonus point victory and nothing less no matter who the opposition.

With the radio mics in front of him tonight though, Cullen was adamant that four points was reward enough against an Ulster side who found their feet once facing into the second half wind.

Even more so, according to the head coach, when you consider many of his front-liners are still climbing back to the top of their game after a post Champions Cup rest window.

“A lot of guys had time off prior to Christmas, so when they came back in and trained this week they looked rusty. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see us be a little bit rust when we played,” explained Cullen.

Signs of rust were disguised by two clinical first-half set-play tries off excellent line-outs. But when it came to the second half it was Ulster who were the team in the ascendancy – albeit from a very low base – as they dominated territory and possession to frustrate their hosts.

The composure, we just got a bit panicky. Every time we turned the ball over, we just gave it back to them. We didn’t put them  under real sustained pressure, which we did in the first half.”

Cullen added: “Ulster dug in well. At times we overplayed and turned the ball over. Other times we kicked the ball out on the full.

“It was a combination of things – couple of penalties, calls that don’t go our way and we looked like we got frustrated. So we need to show better composure. But that comes a bit from guys having had time off looking rusty. So it’s a combination of factors.”

Jamie Heaslip addresses the team after the game Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Leinster’s bid to shake off the rust as they build towards the final rounds of Champions Cup pool games won’t be aided by an international mini camp in Carton House tomorrow. Taking tonight in isolation though, Cullen insisted that an inter-pro victory was satisfactory.

“I thought it was a great occasion here, to get a packed house at the RDS. That scoreline we probably would have settled for if you offered it to us at the start of the day. We defended really well, but it took a bit of a sting out of our attack on the flip side.

“The exciting thing is we’re a long way off where we can get to. That’s what we need to look to.

“With guys coming back in who played against Munster, we’ll have good competition for places. Guys have had time off as well. After they come back in they’re definitely a bit rusty, we just try to get into a rhythm now.

“Starting against Zebre on Friday.”

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

As it happened: Connacht v Munster, Guinness Pro12

O’Loughlin shines to beat Ulster, but Leinster leave bonus point behind

Your Voice
Readers Comments
5
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel