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Bulls battle can help Leinster springboard to title

Leinster overcame Ulster relatively easily to set up an away BKT URC semi-final at high altitude against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Richie Murphy's side went down with a fight, losing to Leinster for the first time this season.

They’ve continued to expose small areas of weakness in the Leinster game that the Bulls will take interest in.

Leo Cullen’s side looked vulnerable under the high ball and in the back field.

With the high line speed and narrow defence that Leinster play with, they’re always going to put their back field under pressure when covering the space.

Hugo Keenan's absence in that regard is a huge loss for the eight-time URC champions.

Jimmy O’Brien (below) has hit form upon his return from injury and is creating many chances in attack.

He’s been a serious addition when on the front foot, however, they coughed up many balls in the air, some from O’Brien; others were a result of Ulster’s ability to recognise changes in the back field, or manipulating those changes themselves.

They kicked high on Ross Byrne after a goal line restart, knowing that Byrne stays once he’s kicked them.

The visitors were unfortunate not to get a better return from the ball that they disrupted in the air. A few knock-ons could have fallen differently in another game.

The South African teams are well able to compete in this area of the game.

The try that got them over the line against Benetton last weekend was directly from a contestable kick that they won back, leading to some Johan Goosen magic and David Kriel scored in the far side of the pitch.

We’ve seen that style of play from the Springboks in the past, and while the South African teams can loosen play a bit more than that stereotype, they can still resort to it when needed, and