Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Danger Men
Cullen praises double Byrne threat and Leinster ability to 'out-last' Scarlets
The head coach feels his side’s endurance has been the key to their string of bonus point wins.

ANOTHER BONUS POINT win with over 40 points on the board. Leinster have made short work of their opponents during the Six Nations.

The root of these successes, according to head coach Leo Cullen after the 45 – 9 win over Scarlets, is endurance.

“The players are training well, they’re working hard. When they get time off they’re recovering well so they can work hard again,” says Cullen ahead of a three-week break from competition, a chance to recharge the batteries of the players who won’t be involved in Ireland’s final push in the Six Nations.

It’s nice, especially in front of your home crowd, when you come up with big moments in games. You can see there tonight, they’re out-lasting (opposition). It was the same here against Edinburgh – very tight first-half, then we scored a few tries in the second half which is pleasing. A lot of it is down to the work they do on the training field.”

A 36-point winning margin seemed fanciful at half-time when Leinster were poor value for their 12 – 9 lead. Scarlets almost managed to frustrate their opponents and were it not for a Luke McGrath chargedown and a dropped pass, would have been in control at the interval.

Ifs and buts though, and Leinster built on their lead with a massive lift in intensity for the 20 minutes after the half-time break.. They had the wind with them, but the momentum was all their own doing.

“It was very much about wearing them down. We felt that they were starting to tire on half-time. We get better field position, you’ve the wind at your back, the guys carried with a real intent. They said that themselves at half-time: ‘making sure we keep working, winning collisions.’

“James Davies went off reasonably early in the second half as well. He is an ever-present threat at the ball. Him not being there made a difference in terms of the speed at the ball.”

A little extra freedom at the breakdown allowed Ross Byrne those vital inches of space to get his head up and pick out pin-point cross-field kicks to stretch the Scarlets. The biggest threat from those wide positions was Adam Byrne. Though he didn’t manage to turn his one-on-one attacks into a try for himself, he did provide two try-assists while laying flat on his back after occupying the last defender.

Adam Byrne Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“(Ross Byrne’s) recognition of where the space is and the relationship between Ross and the wingers is really coming on. Scarlets were getting a bit tight defensively, so kicking to Adam (Byrne)’s side of the field in the second half got us a lot of really good rewards. Adam looked dangerous in the wide spaces, but really good kicking from Ross.”

Cullen added: “The messages at half-time from players and coaches is just making sure we managed the conditions, play in the right areas. And for them having to play back at us, we know if we defend well, some opportunities would come.”

“All in all, a very pleasing night’s work.”

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