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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018

'A proper cup rugby match': Cullen pleased with Leinster's patience to force win

Meanwhile, Jonathan Sexton’s knock that took him off kicking duties is ‘nothing major’.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Sean Farrell reports from Sandy Park

LEINSTER HEAD COACH Leo Cullen laid the praise with his side’s patience in attack and defence after tonight’s enthralling win over English champions Exeter Chiefs.

The 8-18 victory maintains Leinster’s 100% record over three European matches this season puts them in command of their Champions Cup pool and delivers a serious dent to the Chiefs’ Champions Cup hopes.

As Cullen notes though, a 10-point winning margin doesn’t necessarily reflect the unbearably tight nature of the contest for 70 minutes.

“It was a closely fought-out game,” Cullen said post-match in Sandy Park, “a proper cup rugby match. Two well-organised teams. I thought we had good chances, controlled the ball pretty well in the first 20 minutes.”

The luck that eluded Leinster in that stage of the contest was a forgiving eye from the TMO, who twice erred on the side of the Chiefs on marginal calls when they twice initially felt they had grounded good tries.

It was Leinster’s work without the ball however, that did most to sap the Chiefs’ momentum. Most notably five minutes before the interval when the home side mounted a set of phases in the 30s before pressure from the blue wall eventually forced a knock-on.

“It was a big moment just before half-time when he hold them out when they’re in their pick-and go game.”

It was that sort of night.

“44 phases for Jack Conan’s try, it’s pleasing because of how patient we are in the 22, particularly away from home. We were three points ahead and didn’t need to force the game. It was nice to get over.”

After that gargantuan effort from both sides, these two clubs will have to go at it all over again in just six days’ time. That short turnaround looked particularly troublesome for Jonathan Sexton who limped off before the finish after passing kicking duties to Isa Nacewa for the second half.

Cullen however, says the “bang” on his out-half’s quad is “nothing major”. More serious looking was the injury that took Rhys Ruddock out of action early in the second period.

All hands will be needed at the pump again  weekend, Rob Baxter’s side aren’t in the business of letting bruised pride go unnoticed.

“There’s plenty of things in the game that we can get better at as well, a little bit of composure. But it’s not an easy place to come and get a win. So we’re delighted to get that.”

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Sean Farrell

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