Cullen pleased with impact of young players
December 5, 2016 1:02 pm client
Leinster went level on points with Munster at the top of the Guinness PRO12 table after the bonus point win over Dragons on Saturday evening, scoring four tries on the evening through Peter Dooley, Ross Molony, Jack Conan and Joey Carbery.
The bonus point would have been secured before the break, but Rory O’Loughlin’s effort was ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.
However, Carbery struck early in the second half to claim maximum points from the fixture.
A strong start with tries from Dooley and Molony – both getting their first senior tries for the province – had Leinster 14-3 ahead by the end of the first quarter, something that pleased Leo Cullen after last weekend’s defeat to Scarlets.
Speaking to the media after the win, Cullen was asked whether he was happy with the performance overall.
“The first half, first 43 minutes, probably. After that it looked pretty disjointed,” the former Leinster captain said.
“Overall we’re pleased with the outcome, which is a win, and a bonus point win as well. You take it and move on to the challenges that are coming up.
“I thought we coughed up the ball too cheaply on a number of occasions – Dragons go hard at the ruck. We dealt with the threats pretty well in the first half. I thought in the second half we were a little bit loose with some of our carries as well, which led to us turning the ball over quite cheaply a few times.”
With the majority of internationals unavailable for the fixture, several young players were given the opportunity to impress, notably Charlie Rock and Max Deegan who both made their senior debuts.
“It’s great experience for those guys, coming up against a team like Dragons who are very experienced as well. It’s a great day for the likes of Jeremy Loughman, his first start, Charlie Rock and Max Deegan coming off the bench. It’s really pleasing to see those guys in senior Leinster jerseys now. It does bode well for the future.”
Cullen was also pleased with the performance of another Academy player, Rory O’Loughlin, and the man of the match, Jack Conan.
“I thought the two of them (Conan and O’Loughlin) carried really strongly. Rory’s gone really well for us, he took a couple of bangs, but I thought he performed really, really well again.”
After scoring Leinster’s bonus point try Carbery left the game, a decision which, Cullen said, was about managing the players’ game time after featuring in Ireland’s win over Australia the previous weekend, as well as getting another chance to see Ross Byrne in action.
“It was more the way the week had panned out as well. Ross did a lot of the training in the early part of the week, and obviously had played last week as well, so we were keen to get another look at him. Obviously Joey had played 50-odd minutes the week before in an international as well, so we’re just trying to manage that workload.”
Kick-off your Christmas at Leinster Rugby v Northampton Saints in Aviva Stadium on 17th December. Tickets are on sale now.