Friday 27 April 2018

Leo Cullen pinpoints Toulon's muscle as decisive in their Champions Cup contest

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen believes Toulon's physical power proved the undoing of his side
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen believes Toulon's physical power proved the undoing of his side

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen felt Toulon's physical power was the difference at the Aviva Stadium as his side went down 20-16 - their fourth consecutive European Champions Cup defeat of the season.

The Irish province were unable to build on a 16-5 half-time lead, which was teed up by a penalty try and 11 points from Jonathan Sexton's boot, as Toulon ultimately proved too strong for the second week running.

Following up on last Sunday's 24-9 home success, the French giants picked up a penalty try and drove replacement hooker Anthony Etrillard over from a lineout maul, adding to their lone first half effort from man-of-the-match Juan Smith.

Although he saw a number of encouraging signs in Leinster's first half performance in Dublin, Cullen believes they were outmuscled by the visitors after the restart.

"It was important that we try to build a lead. Unfortunately, we allowed Toulon to play too much at us in the second half, and we did't manage our field position particularly well," admitted Cullen.

"That power, it does pay in the end. It was a tough day for us there. A lot of really good things in the first half. Second half, we just got outmuscled."

Cullen felt the decision by referee Wayne Barnes to award a 57th minute penalty try in Toulon's favour was 'a tough call' against the hosts.

"It looked like their tighthead was on the angle. We actually get a penalty for what looked like a pretty similar picture later in the game, but apart from that, the penalties (conceded by us) come from the pressure."

Toulon boss Bernard Laporte, whose charges lie second behind Pool Five leaders Wasps with a game in hand, was pleased to complete the double over Leinster, but he was concerned at the penalties they gave away in the opening period.

"No, not confident (at half-time), but we spoke and said, 'we give away too many points. Easy three points, three points, three points'. I spoke with my players, and said: 'they are not dangerous, but we give them points'," said Laporte.

"We have players with power, but the power is collective. We saw in the last 10 minutes in scrum, in maul, in the ruck, we are better than Leinster. Because I think Leinster tightened up in the last 30 minutes."

Press Association

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