Friday 18 October 2019

Leo Cullen points out areas where Leinster can improve despite big win over Bath

15 December 2018; Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster, left and head coach Leo Cullen, prior to the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 4 match between Leinster and Bath at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
15 December 2018; Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster, left and head coach Leo Cullen, prior to the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 4 match between Leinster and Bath at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder felt his side's failure to replicate last week's positive performance played a big part in their heavy 42-15 defeat to Leinster in Heineken Champions Cup Pool One.

Tries from back rowers Francois Louw and Sam Underhill were dwarfed by the defending champions' six-try tally - Jack Conan, man-of-the-match Rory O'Loughlin, James Lowe, Adam Byrne, Dan Leavy and replacement Jamison Gibson-Park all touched down at the Aviva Stadium - as the result ruled Bath out of contention for the knockout stages.

"A little bit like yin and yang," said Blackadder, whose side lost 17-10 to Leinster last week at the Recreation Ground.

"Last week was such a really clinical performance from us. We didn't do the things tonight that served us as well last week. We just didn't build any phases whatsoever in the first half.

"We just didn't make the tackles. I think Jamie (Roberts) missed a tackle for the first try and then we started falling off them.

"There's no excuses for those things and it's often the difference in these massive games. You've just got to do your basics really well and if you don't, you get put away."

While they remain two points behind leaders Toulouse, Leinster are now assured of at least a second-place finish in the pool.

After seeing his charges struggle to create momentum at the Rec, head coach Leo Cullen was pleased with Leinster's application on a blustery night in Dublin.

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"We knew about the threats Bath have in their team going into last week," said Cullen.

"It's one thing knowing about it, but then it's how do we deal with it? We didn't deal with it particularly well at times last week. I thought we were better around the contact area tonight, even though we gave away a penalty and three points at the very start of the game.

"Overall, I thought we played with a bit more attacking intent and were able to move Bath around a bit more. I thought the guys were very clinical in terms of taking some of the opportunities when they came along. Particularly in the first half."

Cullen stressed, however, that there are areas of Leinster's play that require attention ahead of their Christmas return to Guinness PRO14 action.

"We probably don't make a great read on the lineout (for the first try) and then we find ourselves defending a series of attacks from Bath," he said.

"I thought they came with a very direct focus in terms of the way they tried to attack us.

"They're a team that have got a ton of resources behind them and they've got so much quality. For us, there was maybe a couple of times in the first half where we don't quite connect defensively. There's definitely lots of things we can get better at."

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