Leo Cullen lauds 'very brave' Joey Carbery after scintillating display
Leinster coach Leo Cullen hailed his side’s composure as they booked a return to a Champions Cup final for the first time in two years, where they will play either Clermont or Toulon, and praised the impact of 21-year-old full-back Joey Carbery.
“We didn’t respect the ball at times but we showed good composure at the end there and managed to create a good couple of scores,” said Cullen. “We’re delighted to be in a semi-final.
“It will be an exciting challenge but very tough. We’ve lost a couple there against Toulouse and Toulon, but won one against Clermont too. The margins are tight.
“We were a bit exposed a couple of times but that is the risk you take. We want players to express themselves in front of 50,000 people who have paid money to be here.
“There is a risk but we will get better with more time. There are definitely areas we can improve upon, we mis-fired in the lineout a couple of times.
“Joey is brave, very brave. We’ll go through the game with him, he is hungry to learn and eager to get better. It was a good performance, I’m delighted.
“He’s 21, it has all come very quickly for him. He stays grounded and hopefully he will have a big part to play. Having him as a second receiver certainly takes some of the pressure off Jonathan Sexton.”
Wasps boss David Young admitted that his side’s chances were undermined by their first-half concession of cheap tries as Leinster compiled a virtually unassailable 22-3 half-time lead, despite mounting a stirring comeback midway through the second-half.
“The damage was done in the first-half,” said Young. “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and it is difficult enough coming to Dublin to play a top quality side without doing that.
“We didn’t do ourselves justice, especially in the first-half. Leinster made a lot less mistakes. We couldn't get to three or four phases. We looked like rabbit in the headlights.
“We turned the ball over and we weren’t accurate enough. They created one good try in that first-half but the other two tries we gifted to them, one from a driving line-out and one from a kick to their back three.
“We showed character in the second-half. We have ourselves a chance late on but you can’t leave yourself a mountain to climb. We needed to test ourselves and the occasion got to us in the first 25 minutes, it took us 38 minutes to get to more than three phases.
Wasps were also undone by a bizarre incident involving 41-times capped Springbok Willie Le Roux, who dropped the ball over the line when destined to score what would have been a try against the run of play in that opening half.
“He is really disappointed and apologised at half-time,” said the coach of the Premiership pace-setters. “At 10-8 down after 25 minutes, we could have taken that score-line. It wasn’t a turning point, we had plenty of time to play.”
Leo Cullen slightly disagreed; “It was a poor kick-chase from us, it was a bit of a turning point when he dropped the ball over the line.”
Young revealed that the South African was devastated after his massive clanger.
“He has his head down, you expect him to score that try. That didn’t help us but we gave away two other tries and they were nails in our coffin.
“We knew we needed to be at our best but we didn’t need to give them a helping hand as well. There was no lack of effort or commitment, just a lack of accuracy.”