Monday 24 July 2017

'We're scrambling now' - Leo Cullen reacts to Leinster's joint-heaviest ever defeat in Europe

Leinster's Dave Kearney as Wasps convert a try during the European Champions Cup, pool five match at the RDS Arena. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Leinster's Dave Kearney as Wasps convert a try during the European Champions Cup, pool five match at the RDS Arena. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Leinster players react after Wasps scored their second try. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 5, Round 1, Leinster v Wasps. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 15: Johnny Sexton of Leinster looks on during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leinster Rugby and Wasps at the RDS Arena on November 15, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 15: Elliot Daly of Wasps is tackled by Johnny Sexton of Leinster during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leinster Rugby and Wasps at the RDS Arena on November 15, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 15: Sam Jones of Wasps loses the ball to Jack McGrath of Leinster during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leinster Rugby and Wasps at the RDS Arena on November 15, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 15: Ian Madigan of Leinster tries to tackle Charles Piutau of Wasps during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leinster Rugby and Wasps at the RDS Arena on November 15, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 15: Players and Officials line up for a one minute silence over the terrorist attacks in Paris during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leinster Rugby and Wasps at the RDS Arena on November 15, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
15 November 2015; Members of the Leinster team, from left, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Jonathan Sexton, Richardt Strauss and Mike McCarthy during a minutes silence for the recent tragic events in Paris and the current period of national mourning in France. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 5, Round 1, Leinster v Wasps. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
15 November 2015; Sean O'Brien, Leinster, is tackled by Nathan Hughes, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 5, Round 1, Leinster v Wasps. RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Leinster are already under pressure in their heavyweight European Champions Cup pool after losing 33-6 to a clinical Wasps team at the RDS.

Leo Cullen's men fell to just their third defeat in 15 European pool games, delivering a disappointingly flat performance at the start of a campaign that takes them to Bath next Saturday and defending champions Toulon next month.

The first half bubbled along nicely, European debutant Charles Piutau proving dangerous on the counter and Noel Reid standing out in the Leinster midfield. Wasps took their chances though, Christian Wade's 29th-minute converted try adding to three penalties from Ruaridh Jackson (two) and Elliot Daly for a 16-6 interval lead.

Joe Simpson then combined with Frank Halai for a cracking seven-pointer and during the final half-hour, disjointed Leinster were unable to add to Jonathan Sexton's two first-half kicks.

A close-range penalty from Jackson, coupled with a last-minute try from man of the match Piutau, condemned Leinster to their heaviest European loss since a defeat by the same scoreline at Toulouse eight years ago.

Leo Cullen was a frustrated figure throughout the game and admitted that an already difficult pool is now looking incredibly ominous.

"We gave them a very cheap seven points for the try, we don't deal with a kick in the air, 16 points were very cheap in the first half," he told BT Sport.

"We didn't manage our way back into the game, we were trying to force things. Very disjointed.

"We worried in the lead-in to the game that we would be a little disjointed but i wouldn't have feared it would be as bad as that.

"You do force things, people do uncharacteristic things. You see experienced players making uncharacteristic mistakes. It's really, really frustrating.

"Credit to Wasps, they came with a very simple game plan and took their opportunities when they arose. It's very disappointing because we know we can be a lot better than that.

"We turned over the ball very cheaply, we're playing Bath in six days time and we have a mountain to climb. We knew this pool would be tough and it's got a helluva lot tougher."

Asked about where the defeat leaves his side's Champions Cup chances, Cullen added: "It leaves us scrambling, we've been in a situation where we have lost our first game at home in Europe and qualified from the pool but it's going to be tough.

"We can't look beyond Bath. We need to show a lot of character and show what we're made of."

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