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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020

Relief all round for Leinster after 'disjointed' build-up caused Cullen concern

The Leinster head coach was relieved to come away with the points from his side’s clash with Ospreys.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IN HIS PROGRAMME notes, Leo Cullen wrote of the bother the Ospreys have caused the province in recent years and he must have thought Leinster’s bogey team were set to strike again this afternoon.

Steve Tandy’s side, who triumphed in Pro12 finals in 2010 and 2012 at the RDS, conjured a stirring second-half fightback earlier to give Leinster a real scare.

It was all a bit too close for comfort for the hosts after they’d seen their 13-point half-time advantage been whittled down by an Ospreys side bristled with intent.

However, on this occasion, Cullen’s charges held firm in the face of a late onslaught to maintain their 100% winning record in the competition this season and move within two points of Connacht.

The 19-16 victory ensures Leinster remain in a healthy position heading into the season’s final stretch and Cullen admitted the most important thing was coming away with the points.

“It wasn’t the easiest of conditions but it was a well-contested game and we knew the Ospreys would throw everything at us,” he said “I thought they came with good intent to play and I thought they went hard at the ball and made life difficult for us at the breakdown.

Dan Leavy breaks free to score their first try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We didn’t help ourselves at times as well but we’ll take a win and move onto the next challenge.”

Leinster came out of the blocks slowly and found themselves behind early on but soon sparked into life when Dan Leavy finished off a superb move involving Ian Madigan and Fergus McFadden.

The home side assumed control of the contest from then on as Madigan found his radar from the tee with three penalties before the break.

However, the complexion of the game changed after the restart as the Welsh outfit rallied and worked their way back into proceedings.

And Cullen believes the disjointed nature of the build-up, with players coming in and out of the squad from international duty, played a part in the performance.

“I was worried going into this week, and I talked before the game, that it’s a little bit disjointed. We’ve players coming and going and that can sometimes spill over into the performance so I think there were some inaccuracies there at times but in defence of the players, it hasn’t been easy to balance the double environment.

Ben Te'o is presented with the man of the Guinness PRO12 Man of the Match award by Joe O'Reilly Ben Te'o was the standout performer. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The win is the most important thing and we’ll move on and we can assess the performance and look at the areas we can improve on going forward.”

Cullen also issued a relatively clean bit of a health afterwards too with Mick Kearney, who sustained a head injury, the only major concern. The second-row was forced off in the second-half after failing his HIA.

Other than that there were a couple of bumps and bruises which will be assessed over the weekend.

“We’re in reasonably good shape,” the Leinster head coach added. “Some guys are going to go back into camp and some of the younger guys will be getting ready to play the B&I quarter-final next week in Donnybrook against London Welsh.

“That’s a really important game for the club and really important for the development of players. Some guys will get a couple of days off and come in at the tail end of next week and we’ll start looking towards Glasgow for the following Friday.”

Leinster will have a week off to recharge the batteries before the serious business begins again.

Victory today moves them back within touching distance of provincial rivals Connacht with the race for the play-offs heating up.

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Leinster hold firm at the death to stay on the heels of Connacht

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Ryan Bailey

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