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Cullen happy to have 'close calls' for consideration as Leinster turn focus to the Bulls

The province welcome the South African side to the RDS next Friday.

Dan Sheehan and Ryan Baird.
Dan Sheehan and Ryan Baird.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

LEO CULLEN ADMITS he is facing some ‘close calls’ this week as Leinster prepare to welcome the Bulls to the RDS next Friday night.

Leinster booked their place in the United Rugby Championship semi-finals with a comprehensive 76-14 win over Glasgow Warriors at the RDS today, a result which set-up a last four meeting with the Bulls – who recorded a dramatic late win over the Sharks earlier on Saturday.

It briefly looked like Glasgow were going to put it up to Leinster, the visitors starting brightly and taking an early lead before Richie Gray’s 14th minute yellow card saw Leinster take full control – the province scoring three tries during the 10 minutes the Warriors lock spent in the bin.

The hosts eventually cruised to a one-sided 76-14 win to ease into the semi-finals.

“We were pleased with how we managed the yellow card period, to score three tries is a huge boost for us,” Cullen said.

“How we started the second half as well, we took the game away from them quite quickly which is pleasing. All the bench guys added good impact, which is so, so important now.

“It’s really just getting through to the next round, there’s no extra points for scoring more tries in these games. It’s on to the next challenge which is the Bulls, which will be significant. It’s about enjoying the week, that’s the big thing from my point of view, for the guys to enjoy another week together.

“You see it now with teams who are finished, the season is over, and the groups are never together again in that form. There’s always ‘X’ amount of movement in playing squads, that’s just the way it is. It’s about enjoying the time together, and hopefully we can push each other on in terms of delivering a performance next Friday.

And even Glasgow had some moments in the second half, they get in for a try, we hit back pretty quickly afterwards, they make a good linebreak at one stage and Ciarán Frawley and Ryan Baird are chasing back, lots of players are working hard to get back and again, that sort of desperation defence, if you do get breached for whatever reason, you just have that ability to rescue yourself out of whatever trouble you get yourself into. 

“That fight and scramble is good, and that’s what you need in these play-off games.” 

Leinster had a number of strong performers in the Dublin sunshine – with Ciarán Frawley, Dan Sheehan and James Ryan all impressing – and Cullen singled out Jordan Larmour after another excellent showing from the 24-year-old winger.

jordan-larmour-is-tackled Glasgow struggled to contain Jordan Larmour. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Larmour was the standout player in Leinster’s URC outing against Munster two weeks ago but missed out on selection for last weekend’s Champions Cup final.

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Cullen was optimistic on Tadhg Furlong – who came off with a knock – while the province will also hope to welcome some of Johnny Sexton, James Lowe, Rónan Kelleher and Hugo Keenan back for the Bulls game.

“Everyone had moment in the game which was pleasing,” Cullen added.

“It was nice to see Jordan get man of the match, he was unlucky to miss out on selection last week, great to see him go well because he was excellent in that Munster game. It was a hard call, him missing out last week, but it had been his first game in a while, and the magnitude of the game, so it was good to see him go well.

“Now it’s trying to keep it going, we’ll enjoy the week, preparing, working hard for each other and see how everyone comes through the game. There will be a lot of close calls again which is what you want.”  

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Ciarán Kennedy

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