'Saracens spooked us from the...

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'Saracens spooked us from the off' Cullen's Leinster bow out of Europe


Leinster head coach Leo Cullen says lack of experience may have cost them in their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens on Saturday afternoon.

His side's 25-game unbeaten run came to an end as they bowed out of European rugby, losing 25-17 to the champions.

Sarris lead 22-3 at half-time and it looked as if Leinster were in for a hammering, perhaps their lack of competition in the PRO14 coming back at them.

Then tries from Andrew Porter and Jordan Larmour in the 48th and 61st minute suggested a comeback was perhaps on before a  tantalising finish.

32-year-old Alex Goode finished the game with 19 points to his name and it was his penalty in the 80th minute that from the right-wing that ultimately won it for Saracens.

At full-time Cullen said he felt his side never really got going,

 

"I thought we got a little bit spooked right from the off, we didn't deal with Saracens scoring.

"We struggled to get ourselves into the game, we played right into their hands in many ways.

"It goes back to that mentality that they have, and we know they have it, that 3-6-9-12.

"We handed them those opportunities.

"Saracens have a hell of a lot of top-level experience, they probably managed the big occasion better than us.

"I know there's no crowd here but it's still a big occasion.

"We've had the distraction of a semi-final and final [Guinness PRO14] over the last couple of weeks and they've had a pretty singular focus.

"These big games come down to small margins and we didn't get enough right in the first hole and dug ourselves into a pretty big hole.

"The guys showed good character in the second-half but we couldn't do enough to get out of it."

Leinster's last loss before this weekend was to Saracens in May 2019 in last season's Heineken Champions Cup final.

With much change to Saracens, Owen Farrell's suspension and Leinster sailing through the PRO14 to win their third title in a row no one saw this coming, particularly the first-half.

Cullen was keen to point out at full-time that you can't underestimate sides that have won competitions such as this as he targets improvement going forward.

"They have a power element to their team and to their game and we couldn't do enough really, that's what we need to fix coming into these big games against the top teams in Europe.

"We got to the final [last year] and got beaten by Saracens.

"They've had some turn-over of players but I think people just assume that with turn-over of players that they wouldn't be left with much but if you look through their 1 to 15 they're still a very strong outfit with a hell of a lot of experience.

"Guys that have produced on the big stage before.

"We need to figure out how to be better, we're not a million miles away, we did push them and stretch them, we just need to be a little more cynical and take opportunities and not give teams easy access into games."

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Heineken Champions Cup Leinster Leo Cullen Saracens

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