Leinster head coach, Leo Cullen, is pleased with the manner in which his team rediscovered their form to secure a six-try victory over Bath at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.
The European and PRO14 champions were on top form as they wrapped up the bonus-point score in the first half thanks to tries from Jack Conan, Rory O’Loughlin, James Lowe and Adam Byrne. It was a much improved performance from that of the side at the Recreation Ground last weekend when they staggered to a 17-10 against the English side.
However the province still lie in second place in Pool 1 after leaders, Toulouse, secured back-to-back victories over Wasps following their win over Cullen’s side earlier in the competition. The Leinster head coach is well aware of the challenge their rivals pose amidst the battle to qualify from the Pool.
“They seem to be travelling very well. The mix that they have of big ball-carrying forwards who are able to manage contact on their terms and get the ball away, it’s very much classic Toulouse of the Guy Noves era and some of the backs, they have a lot of pace, very very skilful so they’re going to be a handful and they’re still sitting pretty at the top of the Pool so we know we have a lot of work to do.”
The 42-15 win sets up Leinster nicely for a crucial Christmas period as attention now returns to the PRO14 and the return of the interprovincial derbies. Cullen is delighted that his side have had time to gel again after their squad was scattered during the November internationals.
“We’ve come off a period at the start of the season where guys are dropping back at various different stages, then everyone goes away again, so then you’re trying to rebuild everything. We talked about that level of cohesion with some of the selections but it’s good that we’ve got everyone back together now and you’re able to build on this block.”
“We’ve three huge interpros games coming up so our attention switches back to a different competition. We park Europe and we’ll see where everyone sits after the weekend but lots of exciting rugby coming up.”
One of the players that re-integrated himself back into the side was Tadhg Furlong who had a massive impact in yesterday’s victory, as he dominated scrums, was an effective ball-carrier and even set up Jack Conan for his side’s first try. Cullen admitted that the prop was struggling with an injury during the week, hence he was taken off early in the second half.
“We took Tadhg off quite early because he had been struggling a bit during the week, you wouldn’t necessarily have noticed in the first half. He was involved in everything. A lot of guys came back in last week after a little bit of time off struggling to get to the level of the game, the physical level of the game in the Rec.”
“I think it was a bit of a shock to some of them but they were definitely in a much better place this week I think which is a good reminder for us. You can see it across all the pools, what it means to the teams playing.”