Published: 13:39 | 22/2/21

Cullen: We were a bit off

Leo Cullen accepts Leinster were 'a good bit off' as they ground out a bonus-point win over the Dragons in Newport.

Leinster's ill-discipline in the opening half proved costly as they conceded a number of penalties to allow the hosts to open up a 9-0 lead inside the first 21 minutes. However, the reigning Guinness PRO14 champions hit back as Peter Dooley went over for the game's opening try in the 24th minute.

Although Sam Davies extended Dragons' lead a minute later, Leinster edged in front when Scott Penny drove over before the half-hour mark, only for the Welsh side to regain the lead on the stroke of half-time.

A yellow card for Lloyd Fairbrother at the start of the second half saw Dragons reduced to 14 men, and soon Leinster were in control with Josh Murphy going over for his side's third try before they were awarded a penalty try.

A fifth try came courtesy of Dan Sheehan but Dragons grabbed a deserved losing bonus point when Luke Baldwin and Josh Lewis crossed as Leinster held on for a 29-35 victory.

"We haven't played for a few weeks now so I think the guys were trying a little bit too hard at times but we were poor, particularly in the first half which allowed Dragons to have that 3, 6, 9, 15 points," Cullen told eir sport. "I thought we looked ok when we controlled possession a bit better but it was a bit stop-start in the first half. The conditions were very, very difficult out there for both teams and obviously the surface was giving away on a number of occasions.

"It is a positive outcome, but in terms of performance piece, I think we were a good bit off."

Leinster have trailed a number of times at half-time this season and Cullen believes this may be due to a lack of consistency in the line-up.

"There is a lack of cohesion at times because we chop and change our group quite a bit. this block of games gives a good chance for some young players to get some consistency," he added. "We were a little bit off today conditions played a part, we're pleased to get a win but it is very much on to the next game at the moment so we will turn our attention to to Glasgow.

"I thought the forwards were good, nice and patient when they got into the 22 and played with good intensity. It was good to see some of the forwards capitalising on some of the hard work they have been putting in on the training ground."

Leinster play Glasgow on Sunday before a trip to Kingspan Stadium to face Ulster and Cullen will use the current block of games to give some players the chance to prove themselves.

He explained: "Guys are growing in experience all the time. Even Marcus Hanan who came off the bench today to make his debut, he hasn't been with us very long but it's great for him and it's trying to get that balance right with the mix of experience and some younger guys coming through. We will see how they shape up at the end of this block.”

Image: Sportsfile

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