Not only were Leinster at home in the RDS, a place that has become synonymous with winning, often by large margins, no matter the XV put out. But they played what Cullen believed was their strongest XV available. Given this, it is fair to surmise that yesterday's days loss was a bigger shock than the defeat to La Rochelle.
The feeling a month ago was that Leinster had suffered enough hurt in the last few years, and had learnt enough from past defeats to have the strength to take home both European and URC silverware this season. And it certainly looked like they had reached a higher plane heading into the knockout stage of the season. But they were once again 'figured out', and will once more have to dust themselves off, regroup and adjust.
The Bulls and Jake White are a side who did precisely that after suffering a massive defeat to Leinster in their first URC tour. Following yesterday's match, White spoke of his pride at this side's growth since that game in the Aviva.
No-one gave us a chance. To be fair this a quality side, Leinster don’t lose often at home, and especially if they get a good start in January then it is difficult to catch up to them. We started well, we got a bit of a points lead and probably had to hang on as you saw.
I think to be fair, the first tour we came here we learnt a lot, we played Leinster first up and obviously we got dished, and we worked out that we’re not going to be able to play the same way in South Africa. And today you saw we had to match them with their intensity and their pace as well.
To be fair they are probably the best side when they’re on a roll and they’ve got the ball, and we had to defend out of our skins. I really think the thing I’m proud about, not only about the result, obviously a coach you want to be in the play-offs and you want to be in the final, but I think the way we’ve learnt over the last couple of months to play like we did against Leinster.
Tá Jake White breá sásta leis an bhua agus é ag caint lenár bpainéal ar thaobh na páirce 🔵 🐂
"No-one gave us a chance - Leinster don't lose often at home"#LEIvBUL @Rugbai_BEO @URCOfficial pic.twitter.com/20eCg3CN2T
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) June 10, 2022
Leo Cullen's words after yesterday's loss, echoed the shell shock and utter despair that his players and staff are experiencing.
It is pretty sick in there, yeah. There's so much work that goes into getting the team to knockout games and to fall short here, particularly at home in the RDS at this time of year, is disappointing. We start the game okay, we get ourselves into trouble a few times with when we lose the ball in the ruck.
That's probably the big thing in terms of how we go about playing the game so that's probably the biggest thing that's sort of sticking in my mind at the moment. Because there was actually moments in the La Rochelle game as well where if you give away a turnover at the ruck there's a huge territory game for the opposition.
The Bulls were good and clinical when they get down our end of the field. And then we are in that mode of chasing the game which is a little bit different to the La Rochelle game where we lose right at the death where we are in the lead for most of the game.
Twitter and social media was also alight with reaction, as fans, commentators, and players spoke highly of the quality and excitement of the rugby produced at the RDS.
There was huge praise from all corners for the Bulls and their powerful display, while many gave their opinions and takes of what wrong went wrong for Leinster.
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) June 10, 2022
I'm absolutely enjoying this game🔥🔥!!
I even wish I could have cake st this time of the evening!🤣😅.#LEIvBUL
— Retshegofaditswe Nche (@oxnche) June 10, 2022
Leinster have had a great season but I think they've suffered a little by being the most analysed team in world rugby. I know everyone knows everyone's stuff these days but this Leinster side has been videoed to death all season. URC, H-Cup, Autumn Tests, Six Nations.
— Three Red Kings (@threeredkings) June 10, 2022