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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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'We will get better': Cullen relieved to escape but there's huge room for improvement

Tries from Jordi Murphy, Joey Carbery and Jamison Gibson-Park secured a 21-13 win for the hosts.

Gibson-Park's late try secured the win for Leinster.
Gibson-Park's late try secured the win for Leinster.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from the RDS 

LEO CULLEN ADMITS Leinster’s malfunctioning lineout is a cause for concern ahead of a crucial block of fixtures after he watched his side stumble past Edinburgh this evening.

The eastern province huffed and puffed their way to a 21-13 victory at the RDS and were fortunate to come out the right side of the result after a lacklustre and inaccurate performance.

Several aspects of Leinster’s game failed to fire but the most alarming element was their misfiring set-piece, with replacement hooker Bryan Byrne struggling in particular when he came off the bench.

Admitting that he was concerned about the challenge posed by Richard Cockerill’s side ahead of kick-off, Cullen insisted that his side — who had four Lions returning — will get better as the weeks progress.

“I was concerned for sure, and I was concerned in the preparations,” he said post-match.

“It was a lot of really what we expected. Very abrasive, hard to play against team. Caused us some problems and when we give away the intercept we dig ourselves into a bit of a hole and we had to fight to get out. We were very inaccurate across the board but it’s a win and it was important to get back to winning ways today.

“When you have a lot of players coming in for their first game against guys who have been playing five/six games it’s always challenging and you never know how they’re going to go in the first game of the season. Nothing beats playing and also the fact our preparations for this game wasn’t ideal when you travel back and some of us get back in on Monday off a very long flight.

“We were very inaccurate today, we had so many chances to score tries. We dropped the ball over the line and struggled to recycle the ball a metre from the line. A serious case of white-line fever on a couple of occasions but we got the win. It would have been nice to get a fourth try but we didn’t. I thought we scrambled well at various stages and we fought well for each other.”

Sean Cronin with Neil Cochrane Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

On the lineout, Cullen added: “We looked a bit disjointed and missed a couple of calls which is unusual for us because I haven’t seen that in a while. It’s definitely a cause for concern but that Edinburgh team have caused us problems in the past. We talked about their threat there and we’ll work hard over the next few weeks.

“Huge game next week against Munster, who will put up a huge physical challenge. They base so much of their game on that. Two huge weeks for our set-piece but with guys coming back in, we will get better. We will get better.”

Looking ahead to next week’s interpro with Munster at the Aviva Stadium, Cullen reported a clean bill of health from tonight with Noel Reid the only concern after suffering a head knock.

“Five games, four wins. There was a lot of challenges in this first five weeks and it feels like we’re at the start of the season now as for the most part we’re together as a squad now ahead of a really exciting block of games. Munster, Montpellier and Glasgow. Three very tough challenges.

“Today was the start, there’s a lot of things we can get better at and the players will have to work hard.”

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Leinster far from convincing but Cullen’s men dig deep to see off Edinburgh

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Ryan Bailey

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