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Leinster yet to reach top form: Sean Cronin

By David Kelly

It's been a tough season for Sean Cronin and he is happy to be rid of it. Luckily though, he hasn't been to any of the Manchester United games to see the nightmare up close.

"(David) Moyes just never worked out and I don't want (Ryan) Giggs in there either. We need someone who is in a different mould to (Alex) Ferguson. Seeing Liverpool and City contest the league? Don't remind me!"

However, as his own season comes to an end, few can argue with his or the Leinster stats.

He has had 14 games and two tries in the PRO12. For Leinster, they sit on top of the table on 82 points, three clear of Glasgow, eight clear of Munster and 12 clear of Ulster.

There have been eight try bonus points awarded in the 22 games. They are second only to the Ospreys in terms of points and tries scored with 554 and 57 respectively. Yet, Leinster are not happy.

"There were no celebrations around making the play-offs and I think that is good. You have to want to be better. You have to want to deliver a more rounded performance and to execute all the things that you set out to do.

"Last weekend against Edinburgh for example we said it after the game, we were sloppy. Whether that was at the breakdown or with ball in hand or in the set-piece; that's three areas we need to look at."

The weekend before last, Edinburgh only managed 12 points at home to Munster and conceded 55 yet this was a different Edinburgh that travelled to Dublin.

"To be fair, a result like that wouldn't have done us any favours either. We needed a really good test leading into the play-offs and that's exactly what we got.

"I think we can say we are a good team but we set high standards for ourselves and last weekend we didn't hit those standards. The coaching team have been driving us hard all week but we've been driving ourselves hard too. We know if we tighten up those areas and we come together as a unit, we are a tough team to beat."

Nearly two weeks to the day since they played last, Leinster will welcome Ulster to a packed RDS. It was a raucous atmosphere last time out in the newly opened Ravenhill and Cronin believes that there were signs that night that Leinster are not far off where they need to be.

"I think that first 15 minutes was very good from us. We started with great composure in a hostile atmosphere. Our set-piece was solid, we carried well and we were controlling. The sending-off though had a bizarre effect. It slowed everything down."

Tomorrow should be no different. Questions will be asked and there is also the prospect that a few of Ulster's bigger guns could be back.

"I've said it before Ulster have a serious squad and play a nice brand of rugby. Look at the last day we played them and lads couldn't make the bench like Craig Gilroy. You then look at their result against Munster. You can be sure they are putting huge pressure on at training and that lifts everyone's performance levels."

While recent history in the latter stages of both the PRO12 and the Heineken Cup have made for pleasant viewing for Leinster fans, the players see a different story. A story of two losses last year in the PRO12 that is a telling reminder of what Ulster are capable of.

"We have seen enough of them recently up close and in video to know what they can bring," said Cronin. "They will feel that they missed an opportunity in last year's final having beaten us twice in the regular season."

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