Leinster dig themselves 'out of a hole' against Racing 92 to remain undefeated
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen admitted that his side managed to dig themselves “out of a hole”, as a run of 29 unanswered points saw them beat Racing 92 36-10 at the Aviva Stadium.
Tries from Janick Tarrit and Christian Wade raised Racing’s hopes of staying in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, yet the 10-7 deficit early in the second half only served to inspire a barnstorming response from Leinster.
Hugo Keenan and Jimmy O’Brien completed their braces, Josh van der Flier crossed from a short lineout move and captain Garry Ringrose, the undoubted Heineken star-of-the-match, rounded it all off with a diving 83rd-minute finish.
Despite a high penalty count against them and some scrum issues, Cullen was pleased with how Leinster responded, admitting: “You’ve got to be very respectful, it definitely didn’t feel like a 26-point win.
“We had some opportunities early, just snatching at things, not quite accurate enough, little bit slow in some of our ruck arrivals. Racing, to their credit, were very brave defensively.
“They’re a constant threat as well. The pace that they have, some of the ball players they have, you just can’t switch off for a second.
“Credit to our guys, I thought the composure was good. We stuck to the basics, started carrying a bit better and started to recycle and move around and eventually we started to wear them down.”
As his charges look forward to a home draw in the round of 16, he added: “It’s a good reminder for us, to look back on this game and say, ‘let’s remember, start the game, how do we get into the game, etc’.
“If you find yourself in a hole, credit to the players, they managed to dig themselves out of it and finish the game strongly which is good.”
Meanwhile, there were ‘mixed feelings’ for Racing 92 director of rugby Laurent Travers after watching his team go toe-to-toe with high-flying Leinster before losing their way during the final quarter.
“There were 65 minutes of a good level from us, where we made Leinster doubt themselves,” he said.
“The players understood what needed to be done in terms of commitment and strategy. But the very highest level is 80 minutes of very high intensity and we only had 65.”
Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane (shoulder) is set for a spell on the sidelines, but Travers insists Racing are already coping with plenty of injuries as they prepare to return to domestic action and then compete in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Asked about their approach to the Challenge Cup, he added: “We will honour this competition, we will continue. We won’t let go of anything to honour the jersey, the supporters and the club’s partners.”
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