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'It's a win and not much more than that': Cullen keen to move on after one-score scrap with Zebre

Leinster will hope to hit a more familiar rhythm when they host the Dragons on Friday.

Caelan Doris tries to fend off Giovanni Licata.
Caelan Doris tries to fend off Giovanni Licata.
Image: Federico Matteucci/INPHO

LEO CULLEN BOOK-ENDED his post-match interview last night by trawling the memory bank for another match quite like it.

Zebre 0 Leinster 3 left the head coach sounding more bemused than defensive of a display that was enough – just – to leave the eastern province as the Pro14′s only unbeaten team after four games.

“I’m trying to think of a game I was involved in where the score’s been a combined total of three points,” Cullen told LeinsterRugby.ie.

That crucial three-point score came via the boot of Ross Byrne in the 19th minute. And from there on in Leinster were frayed around the edges.

It was a source of frustration for the coach after a promising start that saw Cian Kelleher come close to a first try in his second stint in blue. Jamison Gibson-Park, who created Kelleher’s chance with a grubber, was then held up over the line before Byrne kicked an improbably early winner.

“We missed a couple of chances in the first 20 minutes and then probably go into our shells,” Cullen said.

It’s another layer of experience for some of our younger players. It is a win and not a huge amount much more than that.

He added: “It’s one of those games you just have to focus on the odd positive that might have taken place and try to turn pretty quickly.”

The next game is often to the forefront of a coach’s mind post-match, but that seemed to go double for Cullen after escaping Italy with a win.

adam-byrne-is-tackled-by-leonardo-krumov Adam Byrne looks for a gainline. Source: Federico Matteucci/INPHO

The home comforts of a clash with the Dragons at the RDS next Friday will carry an expectation of a return to form from all corners. With Glasgow Warriors falling to a loss against the Welsh side this week and the Cheetahs coming off the wrong side of a thriller against Connacht, a timely riposte would see Leinster build on their three-point lead at the top of a very competitive Conference A.

We got right up to the line on a few occasions and probably forced passes, lacked patience and overall accuracy as a result of that.

“If you let teams stay in the game, it’s going to be difficult away from home.

“It is what it is, it wasn’t pretty. Apologies to all the supporters who turned out to watch it. 

“I’m struggling to think of a game I’ve been involved in – that’s quite a lot of games – where it’s been 3-0.”

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Sean Farrell

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