‘We weren’t accurate enough to win a semi-final’ – James Ryan laments Leinster’s display after surprise loss

LEINSTER captain James Ryan lamented his side’s poor accuracy as they relinquished their grip on the United Rugby Championship with defeat to the Bulls at the RDS.

he shock 27-26 loss means Leo Cullen’s side finish without a trophy for the first time since 2017 as the South Africans truly announced themselves as contenders with a terrific display.

They’ll face another away trip next week, with the winners of the clash between the Stormers and Ulster their opposition.

Ryan had no excuses and said the better team won.

“Look, the Bulls were deserved winners,” he said.

“They were the better side on the day, there were moments we got 5 or 10m out from the line and we weren’t clinical enough, some of that was the lineout so we’ve got to take responsibility for that as forwards.

“We weren’t accurate enough to win a semi-final.

“We responded pretty well after half-time, we defended really well… there’s not many positives to take to be honest, we’ve got to be a whole lot better than that. We’re disappointed.

“Guys like Dan Leavy, Devin Toner, Sean Cronin are leaving, legends of the club, and that’s what hurts the most. We couldn’t set something up for them next week.”

Bulls coach Jake White hailed his side and said they drew courage from La Rochelle’s win over Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup final two weeks’ ago.

“We did study it, I’d have liked a 1,000kg pack of forwards like them but we’ll get there.

“What gave us belief, what La Rochelle showed was once you stay in the game you can win it. I know they scored late, but I realised that once Leinster get a 10-15 point start, get a roll it’s very hard.

“You get belief from seeing them lose, if they’d won they’d probably have been harder to beat.

“You have to make sure you don’t give them set-piece, we didn’t kick the ball out and keep the ball in-field. Their lineout is efficient, but we got in among that too.

“I’m very proud of the way we played, we learnt a lot of lessons from the first game at the Aviva. The biggest thing we learnt was that you can’t give them a head-start, things went our way and we got a lead.

“They beat us convincingly by them in the first game, there was a probably a bit of a fear factor and that drove that defensive effort.

“We’re in a great place, things are going nicely at the Bulls.”

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