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'We stuck in there well, guys fought and defended bravely, but the pressure told in the end'

Leo Cullen found enough positives in Leinster’s Pro14 defeat against Edinburgh on Friday night.

Leinster started and finished the stronger in Edinburgh defeat.
Leinster started and finished the stronger in Edinburgh defeat.
Image: Craig Watson/INPHO

LEINSTER MAY HAVE suffered only their third defeat of the Guinness Pro14 season when they went down 28-11 to Edinburgh at Murrayfield, but there was a still a lot to encourage head coach Leo Cullen.

The key thing was that with top spot in Conference B already sewn up and the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster the main target for this month, he had fielded his youngsters while Edinburgh had picked all but three of their current Test players.

Leinster were able to add a few more experienced heads, such as Joe Tomane, Dan Leavy and Luke McGrath, all returning from injury and aiming to prove their match fitness before next week, but the team bore no resemblance to the one they will field against Ulster.

Despite the inexperience of their players, Leinster started and finished the stronger, taking an eight-point lead with a try from Sean Cronin and two penalties from out-half Ciaran Frawley against one kick from Jaco van der Walt.

“We had a lot of young guys come into the group,” said Cullen. “Edinburgh played quite a smart tactical game. I thought we had some chances we didn’t quite execute on.

“Edinburgh put a lot of squeeze on us. We gave away quite a number of penalties for various different offences which put us under a lot of pressure.”

Even Edinburgh admitted that they had to “win ugly” – as head coach Richard Cockerill put it – with their heavy dominance of both pressure and territory meeting solid resistance before they eventually bludgeoned their way over for four converted tries.

The home bonus point try by Fijian number eight Viliame Mata, for example, came only after they had battered the brave Leinster defence for 26 phases.

“I thought we stuck in there well, guys fought and defended bravely, but the pressure told in the end,” Cullen added. “Edinburgh were very, very patient in terms of staying down at our end of the field and eventually getting over. We were there at the end, bashing away at their try-line, but again Edinburgh stuck to their task very well.”

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Lewis Stuart

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