A valuable 80 minutes under his belt, and a crucial bonus point victlasory in the bag, all in all, it was a decent night’s work for Johnny Sexton.
he Leinster captain will be annoyed with himself for leaving several points off the tee behind him, but Sexton will be glad to have ridded himself of some rustiness, with the Champions Cup lying ahead in the coming fortnight, before the Six Nations takes centrestage once again.
A gritty 24-12 over Conference leaders Ulster could well prove decisive in the sprint for the final, as Leinster compounded the northern province’s misery by sending Dan McFarland’s men back to Belfast empty handed.
“The fourth try was an added bonus and to deny them anything was great as well,” Sexton said.
“It’s in our hands now, there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re gonna lose a lot of players to the international window and then the rest of the squad are going to have to pick it up.
“We needed to get a game together, for me I haven’t played for Leinster for a long time apart from 20 minutes last week, so it’s about getting that continuity.
“You could see we were very rusty, especially in the first half, and I was very proud of how we gathered ourselves at half-time and had a very good second half performance.”
Leo Cullen breathed a big sigh of relief after watching his side overcome a 9-5 half-time deficit, as the champions found their feet to secure the bonus point.
“We looked a little bit disjointed at times in the first-half,” the Leinster head coach admitted.
“We responded pretty well at half-time and came out and controlled field position and territory, and possession pretty well for the start of the second-half. Overall, we are pleased and we can turn our attention to Europe.”
For McFarland, it was another defeat in Dublin, and this one may be one of the most costly, as the Ulster boss was left to rue a missed opportunity.
“Really disappointed. We came down here with a side that we would put in a really good performance and certainly for the first-half, we did,” McFarland said.
“Then at the start of the second-half, we made two errors, giving a penalty away needlessly, in our third of the pitch, which they scored off.
“And then knocking on when we had a chance in their half of the pitch. That ended in a period of pressure and a try.
“That was was really the flipping of the game. Ultimately, if you are not close to error free football here in Leinster, they can make you pay, and they did.”