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'Our performances haven't been anywhere close to where we can get to' - Leo Cullen insists more to come


Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Chris Fairweather/Sportsfile

If Leinster go on to win silverware this season, they will look back at the 10-minute spell before half-time in which their 14 men managed to repel wave after wave of Lyon attacks.

With Jordan Larmour in the bin, Leinster dug deep and showed the grittier side of their game, which frustrated the life out of Lyon.

The celebrations that greeted the final turnover looked as if they had just scored a match-winning try. It meant that much to the players.

"I think when you are away from home, you've got to do those things," Scott Fardy said.

"I think it's up to players and leaders to galvanise the group. I think when that happens, when you go down to 13 or 14 men, you can win the game in that 10 minutes.

"Guys were pretty measured and controlled in what they had to do. Guys knew exactly where they had to be and where we were leaving space and what we had to do in that space.

"That last 10 minutes of the second half was the winning of the game for us."

Despite coming away from the home of the Top 14 leaders with a crucial victory, Leinster weren't all that satisfied with their performance.

They feel as if they could and should have killed off Lyon earlier, and the fact that the French side were still in with a chance of taking a share of the spoils at the end, didn't sit well with Leo Cullen (above).

"I don't think any of our performances have been anywhere close to where I think we can get to," the Leinster coach insisted. "That's the thing that we are trying to focus on at the moment.

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"The internationals' attitude has been really good from them coming back in. You can see they are all hungry to be involved.

"They are getting a little bit animated on the field as well, which is what we want to see. I think it's fantastic to see it.

"But as a group, we are still lacking a bit of proper cohesion. We have been a little bit off.

"Thankfully, we have won the two European games but I don't think the performances have been quite where we would like them to be.

"We have got the job done and credit to the players, particularly against Lyon, being able to dig it out, because they have been going so well at home this year.

"We are more concerned about ourselves more often than not so it's about how we impose our game. Defensively, it was good, you shut down Lyon at home, who have scored a lot of tries this season, fantastic.

"But from an attacking side, we are not going to continue to go through games where we have less than 50 per cent possession basically.

"We want to be able to control the game a little bit more and not be in this dog fight at the end where we are hanging in there.

"Lyon have an attacking set at the end, we looked a little bit vulnerable there. That was my impression of the game.

"Why are we getting ourselves into that situation?

"But I think there were probably lots of attacking opportunities that we don't quite capitalise on during the course of the game. They are the things we need to be better at."

Leinster are set to ring the changes for Saturday's trip to Glasgow with as many as 15 alterations expected to their starting XV.

The big guns will return for the pivotal back-to-back clashes against Northampton, but Cullen warned supporters not to expect them all to feature over the festive period, due to the nature of what is a hugely congested season.

"Everybody needs to understand that there is all the internationals, 21 Guinness PRO14 games, play-offs, Europe... there is only so much you can get out of the players and we want them to be able to continue to (Scott) Fardy's age, 49 or whatever," Cullen laughed.

"It's going to be hard to manage the season. So there will be a bit of a break post-tournament and another around Christmas.

"The provincial guys will get a break post-Europe leading into the start of the Six Nations so it is just about evening out those breaks.

"So it is just making sure that over the course of that long season guys are able to give all of themselves. That's just about being clever. It will be frustrating I'm sure for people at certain stages of the season when they don't see all the Irish household names that they want to see."

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