Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen (file pic). Ben Brady/INPHO

Leo Cullen frustrated as Leinster's chances of top-two finish diminish

The coach refused to take issue with his side turning down their 68th minute kickable penalty when leading by a point.

IT WAS an evening of little return for Leinster, whose chances of a top-two finish ahead of the URC play-offs shipped some likely terminal damage from this 23-21 reverse.

Leo Cullen’s squad head into Saturday’s European Champions Cup final with Toulouse off a third defeat from their last five matches in all competitions, though they are assured of a home URC quarter-final.

It took a late John Cooney penalty to deny Leinster who had earlier turned down a kickable shot at goal when leading 21-20 to go for the try bonus point on offer only to be penalised and come away with nothing.

“Frustrating I think is probably the word, I thought there was a lot of really good effort in the game, and we had plenty of chances,” said Cullen whose returning star players Hugo Keenan and James Ryan came through unscathed ahead of next weekend’s European showdown.

“We were ahead to the very end and there is plenty of learning how we manage some of that.

“The last 20 minutes we had plenty of opportunities even the last 20 minutes there we are down in the far corner; the maul is going forward pretty well, and we give away the penalty and we had some other opportunities as well.

“I was pleased with the effort, and we got ourselves in a great position, but we just need to be better in who we execute in certain things that’s from an attack point of view in the second half and even in the first half we made life difficult for ourselves in terms of our exits and put ourselves under more pressure.

“Credit to Ulster they created some good opportunities in the first half I thought we scrambled well and defensively we were good.

“They weren’t really in our end in the second half, they go the length of the field from (Jacob) Stockdale’s intercept.

“I thought we were dominant in the second half, but we just didn’t ram home the advantage we had, and that is the frustrating part,” added the Leinster head coach.

“Probably a lot of good lessons and learnings in there for next week, credit to Ulster they dug in and fought to the very end.”

Cullen refused to take issue with his side turning down their 68th-minute kickable penalty when leading by a point.

“It’s the feel of the game the players are out there, I don’t mind that so much, if it is a knockout game, you do it slightly differently.”

“You are going for a four-try bonus point, so there are other factors at play versus a final.”

“I don’t mind that, you get judged on the outcome but when you are in the moment you can maybe score a try, get a bonus point and go eight points in front.”

Michael Sadlier
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