Leinster celebrate Ross Molony's try. Ben Brady/INPHO
On The Road

'The bags are packed' - Leinster set for South Africa trip in URC semis

The Irish province say they’re still uncertain exactly how they’re going to travel.

LEINSTER HOPE TO land in South Africa as soon as possible but they’re still trying to figure out exactly how they will get a party of 45 people to Pretoria for their URC semi-final against the Bulls.

A six-try 43-20 win over Ulster in this evening’s quarter-final in Dublin means Leinster will take on Jake White’s side at Loftus Versfeld next Saturday.

It looks likely that Leinster’s travelling party will depart in several different groups, with the final logistics being nailed down immediately after the win over Ulster.

“A week until we’re there playing a rugby match there, it’s a very unusual dynamic,” said Cullen.

“I won’t bore you about the dynamics of how airlines do/don’t operate on the weekend, but there are multiple moving parts. I don’t know if you’ve booked many trips for 45 people on a Saturday night, if anyone has any advice?

“The bags are packed, we’ll be setting sail alright. Maybe we’ll go on a boat!”

Teams like Munster have used the coastal Cape Town as a base in South Africa before facing the Bulls, flying up to the Highveld later in the week in a bid to deal with the altitude.

Other sides head straight to the Highveld earlier in the week, but Cullen said it was still unclear exactly what Leinster would do for this semi-final.

“It depends what’s available. It’s very tough at this time of the year, the middle of June, to travel at the best of times so it’s a little, small 45-person working party. We will get out there by whatever means possible.”

Leinster have been to South Africa for two-game URC tours before, but they’ve taken weakened squads without their big-name frontliners for those regular-season rounds.

This time it’s very different, the full-strength Leinster team heading for a knock-out game with a place in the URC final on the line. The Bulls earned their home semi by squeezing past Benetton today.

jordan-larmour-celebrates-after-scoring-his-sides-fourth-try-with-ryan-baird Jordan Larmour and Ryan Baird. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

“I only saw a little bit of that Bulls game earlier on but you’ve seen them over the course of the tournament,” said Cullen.

“Munster had a good win over there, Glasgow had a good battle with them, Benetton played them a few weeks ago as well so we’ve seen a few of those games.

“Oddly enough, that’s the one game I’ve missed that Leinster have played. I was watching it in Wexford with Seanie [O'Brien] with the reins when we had the group over there this time last season. That was a very strange experience watching that game, the only game I’ve managed to miss.”

“But yeah, they’re a good team over there and it will be a great challenge.”

Cullen was pleased with how his side overcame a gritty Ulster team in their quarter-final.

James Lowe scored two of their six tries, while Joe McCarthy was player of the match from the second row.

“I thought Ulster threw a lot into the game, a very spirited performance and they’re a team with a new coach [Richie Murphy], and John Fogarty is working with them… a few tricks around the scrum he has, knows our lads well,” said Cullen.

“They fill the frontline, they’re committed in the tackle and it was always going to take a bit of time in terms of trying to wear them down. They kick a lot from number nine, they try and pin you in your end and if you’re not good in terms of your own aerial receipts they can put you under pressure.

“Both teams had chances at the beginning of the game, we’d a chance we didn’t convert. They’d one that got held up.

“With both teams having chances, Robbie [Henshaw] scores that try, we kick a penalty and James scores a good team try, we put them through a lot of phases, and that’s where you get the benefit of some of the carrying game.

“Eventually, they start to slip off the tackle and you get some soft shoulders. James did excellently well, we got to 17-0 and were lucky to hold them out before half-time which is a big moment.

“You go in 17-0 at half time, it’s not that the game is done but it gives you some breathing space. So, second half is probably tit for tat and we get a couple of tries late on which give a bit of gloss on the game.”

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