Cullen feels more could have been gained from a cagey encounter
As the unshowered players negotiated the narrow passageways underneath the main stand, sidestepping or stopping amid the camera crews and the rest of assembled media, the wounds from this latest bruiser between these two were evident for all to see. So too the pained disappointment on the faces of those wearing blue.
“It’s disappointing,” ventured Leo Cullen, echoing the view of Jamie Heaslip on TV that Leinster had let this one slip away. “I thought we let ourselves down with our execution a couple of times in the last 20 minutes.
“I thought the guys put in a pretty gutsy display and challenged them at times, maybe gave away a couple of penalties quite cheaply and let them off when we had them under pressure on a couple of occasions.
“In the second half there were a lot of missed opportunities for both teams. When it came to the crunch both teams didn’t quite deliver at set-piece time a few times. There was a lot of pressure out there, it was a very close game and it got quite cagey.
“It was almost like both teams stopped playing a little bit. It was there for the team that wanted to go after it and it was almost like both teams were a bit cagey. Listen, we’ve got to put it behind us and move on. A six-day turnaround is short and we’ve just got to make sure we’re in the best shape possible come next Saturday.”
Not surprisingly, given it is one specialist’s domain, Cullen admitted the two lost attacking lineouts in the final minutes “are lingering in my head at the moment. That’s just disappointing but they had one on our 22 where they didn’t quite get it right, either. It was just one of those day; there was a lot of pressure and sometimes it’s the team that is able to execute under pressure that will prevail and maybe at times they were a little bit better than us. It’s hard to tell at the moment.”
The Clermont coach, Vern Cotter, was annoyed that Clermont were not allowed to take a line-out after Morgan Parra had tapped a penalty into touch. “I’m surprised. I must ask the referee why we weren’t allowed to throw the ball in. The choice was to take the lineout and try to score a try at the end. Otherwise we would have played the ball. We would have played it or taken the penalty. So I’m not quite sure what transpired in that far corner but I’ll certainly be asking.”
But Nigel Owens confirmed that the 80 minutes were up, and it appeared to be the correct call.