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'It's definitely a slog to get to this point but we're not relying on permutations'

Leinster are now in pole position to secure a home semi-final after last night’s win over Munster.

Leinster celebrate Sexton's try.
Leinster celebrate Sexton's try.

LEO CULLEN COULDN’T hide his delight in the aftermath of Leinster’s win over Munster last night as his side took a big step towards securing a home semi-final.

Leinster were forced to dig deep at the Aviva Stadium to keep their provincial rivals at bay and in the process move to the top of the Pro12 standings with just three games remaining.

Johnny Sexton’s first-half try laid the platform for the eastern province’s 16-13 victory as the hosts bounced back from consecutive defeats with a crucial win.

And Cullen admits taking control of their own destiny is critical at this juncture of the season as the business end approaches.

“It was a very bruising encounter which you’re going to get for these types of games,” the head coach said afterwards. “It’s good that we keep our position in the top two which means we’re not relying on the permutations. We can just focus on ourselves.

“That’s important. All that work that goes in all season, it’s definitely a slog to get to this point, we’ve used 56 players to get to this point. That 56 doesn’t go into the 23 that are going to play the next three weeks.

Leo Cullen Cullen is hoping to claim silverware in his first season. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“That’s important for the guys that do get the opportunity to play in the next few weeks. They’re running out of time, everyone wants to play in these big games come the end of the season. It’s nice the fact that we are in reasonable control of what we’re trying to do.”

Sitting atop of the ladder, Leinster’s final assignments come in the form of an Edinburgh outfit still pushing for European qualification, a visit to Belfast and a home tie against Treviso.

Each game carries its own significance but the eastern province will have a fortnight to recharge the batteries with their European interest long over – and while the wounds from that failure are still evidently raw, Cullen concedes it will allow his charges to refocus on the task in hand.

“There’s a time for regrouping a little bit next week, the fact that we’re not in the Champions Cup quarter-finals,” he continued. “So we’ll watch on with a little bit of envy and see what the top teams in Europe are doing.

“We’ll watch those quarter finals next week and then we’re back to the RDS which is great. Hopefully we get a full house. It was great having that crowd of over 40,000 people.

“It looked like an electric atmosphere and makes such a difference to the occasion so we’ll refocus now on Edinburgh, reassess the bodies and see how players have pulled through.”

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Leinster fans Over 43,000 were in attendance last night. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Reflecting on his side’s performance on Saturday evening, Cullen expressed his delight at the opportunities created and credited Munster for the manner in which they responded after half-time.

“I thought we created a lot of good opportunities, particularly in the first-half. I thought at half-time, they looked to be tiring,” Cullen added.

“We talked about the importance of the start of the second-half. It was the reverse actually happened. Munster came out firing, they looked like a different team. They looked like a team that was desperate.

“They took their try well. I thought we built our way back into the game pretty well. In the first-half looking back, there was a lot of opportunities, a lot of execution parts within our own control. Again a lot of credit goes to Munster because they put us under a lot of pressure.”

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