Belfast Telegraph

Cullen salutes Leinster's big guns

Leinster 33-19 Benetton

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen hailed his returning international contingent after their 33-19 bonus-point victory over Benetton Rugby in their Pool One opener.

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Last season's beaten finalists welcomed back a number of players who featured for Ireland at the World Cup, including hat-trick hero Garry Ringrose and captain Jonathan Sexton, who also touched down and kicked three conversions.

Cullen said: "That's the pleasing piece - we've got more guys through games. Off the back of what a lot of guys have been through, trying to come back in, it's like their season is starting again. In many ways, it's round one for us as an entire squad.

"We still have a couple more guys that are still yet to appear. Overall, we're pleased. It wasn't perfect, far from perfect, but it's a win. We've got the job done in many respects."

Following Ringrose's early brace, young hooker Ronan Kelleher marked his Champions Cup debut with a well-taken try as Leinster established a 19-7 half-time lead.

But second-half scores from Hame Faiva and Luca Sperandio, adding to Dean Budd's eighth-minute effort, showed the continuing improvements in Benetton's game under Kieran Crowley.

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