Leo Cullan delighted as his Leinster young guns see off Bath
Published 16/01/2016 | 22:06
Ian Madigan finished with an impressive personal tally of 20 points as Leinster finally secured the first win in this season's European Champions Cup, beating Bath 25-11 at the RDS.
With qualification for the knockout stages well out of their reach, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen handed starting places to some of the younger members of his squad - including three Academy stars - and he was delighted with their performances on the night.
Cullen, who fielded six first-time European starters, said: "Yeah, guys are working really hard, and some of those young guys, we talked about it yesterday, they're the guys that are showing really positive characteristics, day in, day out, and they showed it on the field. There's no real coincidence, I suppose.
"They work hard all the time, and they put in a good shift. Certainly, they lack in experience, but they made up for it with the endeavour and work that they put in. Delighted for them, that they got a really good, positive reception as well from the crowd, which was fantastic. Unbelievable noise out there tonight."
Madigan's 15 kicked points had Cullen's side in the driving seat, before a 59th minute try from Leroy Houston helped Bath to work their way back into contention.
However, the Blues responded with a try of their own from replacement Sean Cronin just three minutes later - and Cullen felt they learnt from some of the errors they made in attack during the opening period.
He explained: "We got the ball straight back (following Houston's try), pretty much from the kick-off. Built a bit of pressure there. We probably learnt from some of the mistakes we made in the first half in how we managed our way in the 22. Sean Cronin did very well to get in."
Bath boss Mike Ford is familiar with Cullen from this time in the Ireland international set-up alongside Eddie O'Sullivan, and although he acknowledged that the visitors underperformed in a number of areas, he was particularly disappointed his charges were outmuscled as their Champions Cup hopes petered out in Dublin.
"A few things, a few areas. I think our set piece wasn't great, was it? Line-out, we didn't win too many collisions, and our discipline was poor. Madigan picked us off, kicking his goals," conceded Ford.
"We knew Leinster didn't want to lose here in all the three Champions Cup games, so we pretty much knew they were going to come at us, but we couldn't handle it.
"That's disappointing really, that we couldn't win a collision. Because you know what we did last week at Toulon, against a very, very big side. We did that last week, and couldn't do it this week."