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'It takes a bit to get used to new norm of playing rugby in June'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Leo Cullen has played down the significance of Leinster hammering Glasgow in the URC quarter-finals at the RDS, the Irish province scoring a dozen tries in 76-14 rout of the Scots in an embarrassingly one-sided knockout stage game to draw a line under last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup final loss to La Rochelle. The defending PRO14/URC champions, who are seeking a fifth successive title, bludgeoned Glasgow after initially falling seven points behind just five minutes in.

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They bounced back to lead 26-7 at the break and the floodgates opened in the second half, Leinster adding eight more tries in a sumptuous performance where the impact of Jordan Larmour would have left fans wondering what might have been if he was included in last weekend’s matchday 23 in Marseille.

Larmour scored twice and was a constant menace to Glasgow, who never recovered from the 21 points leaked when Richie Gray picked up a first-half sin-binning. That numerical disparity was repeated in the second half as well, the Warriors leaking a further three tries to overall ‘lose’ their 20-minute period a man down by a criminal 40 points to nil.

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“Everyone had moments in the game which was pleasing,” enthused Cullen about the Leinster bounceback following their agonising cup final loss to La Rochelle. “It was nice to see Jordan to get man of the match. He was unlucky to miss out on selection last week, so it was great to see him go well because he was excellent in that Munster game and it was a hard call for him to miss out on selection last week.

“Lots of guys went well and now it is just trying to keep it going, enjoy the week, enjoy working hard and preparing well for each other and we will see how everyone has come through the game. There are going to be a lot of very close calls again which is what you want.

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“It’s unfortunate for some guys that they will miss out and they will be disappointed, but for the guys that do get the chance to represent the team, they will hopefully go well because is a little unusual playing rugby in June – for players, support staff but supporters as well. Whatever about the team digging deep, supporters have to dig deep again so we hopefully get a big crowd here again next Friday.

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“The games are coming around very, very quickly now but we are very grateful for the support that we get [9,346 against Glasgow] because it is bank holiday weekend with so much going on. Lots of people are creatures of habit and it takes a bit to get used to this new norm of playing rugby in June.”

Asked about the relevance of the winning quarter-final margin for Leinster, Cullen added: “It was just getting back to what we do well… It’s really just getting through to the next round, there are no extra points for scoring more tries in these games. It’s on to the next challenge which is the Bulls and it will be significant.

“The Bulls (quarter-final) game was a very, very tight, tense affair. They were prepared for that drop goal late in the game. I thought they did well. The Sharks had their moments just before that the bit I saw.

“The Bulls came up with a big turnover, went down the other end of the field and showed some good composure to win. Ideally, we don’t get ourselves in that situation next weekend if it is tight at the end. We did a good bit of work this week on the Bulls, it’s a long time since we played them, week one in the Aviva.”

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