ON HOME SOIL, with three tries on the board and a 22-point cushion already built with 37 minutes to play; privately, you would expect Leo Cullen to demand a bonus point victory and nothing less no matter who the opposition.
With the radio mics in front of him tonight though, Cullen was adamant that four points was reward enough against an Ulster side who found their feet once facing into the second half wind.
Even more so, according to the head coach, when you consider many of his front-liners are still climbing back to the top of their game after a post Champions Cup rest window.
“A lot of guys had time off prior to Christmas, so when they came back in and trained this week they looked rusty. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see us be a little bit rust when we played,” explained Cullen.
Signs of rust were disguised by two clinical first-half set-play tries off excellent line-outs. But when it came to the second half it was Ulster who were the team in the ascendancy – albeit from a very low base – as they dominated territory and possession to frustrate their hosts.
Cullen added: “Ulster dug in well. At times we overplayed and turned the ball over. Other times we kicked the ball out on the full.
“It was a combination of things – couple of penalties, calls that don’t go our way and we looked like we got frustrated. So we need to show better composure. But that comes a bit from guys having had time off looking rusty. So it’s a combination of factors.”
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
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Leinster’s bid to shake off the rust as they build towards the final rounds of Champions Cup pool games won’t be aided by an international mini camp in Carton House tomorrow. Taking tonight in isolation though, Cullen insisted that an inter-pro victory was satisfactory.
“I thought it was a great occasion here, to get a packed house at the RDS. That scoreline we probably would have settled for if you offered it to us at the start of the day. We defended really well, but it took a bit of a sting out of our attack on the flip side.
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