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12th Oct 2018

Leinster send message to Europe by absolutely throttling Wasps

Patrick McCarry

James Lowe



The reigning champions not only hammered Wasps at The RDS, they sent out a warning to the rest of Europe that they are not relinquishing the cup they won in Bilbao last May.

Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster’s side put Dai Young’s Wasps to the sword, repeatedly, and racked up 52 points in the process. The Champions Cup is back with a bang, and eight of them came from Leinster.

Leinster absolutely hoed it into Wasps in the first half but found the Premiership outfit game for this fight. Between Tommy Taylor and Will Rowlands, over the first 40 minutes, the Wasps duo stuck a staggering 42 tackles.

The champions hit the front after onlt six minutes when Cronin picked the ball up from the base of a ruck and went from 0 to 60 in next to no time. Juan de Jongh and Willie Roux were left in the hooker’s wake and Johnny Sexton’s conversion made it 7-0.

That was it, for Leinster, until added time in the first half. Lima Sopoaga clawed three points back but Wasps’ scoring chances were restricted to darts at goal. Leinster were setting the agenda and trying to burn off the visitors.

James Lowe made a lovely break that had the home fans roaring and Cian Healy was denied a close-range score. That was the height of it until Sopoaga was sin-binned for what referee Romain Poite considered to be a deliberate knock-on (his second of the game).

Leinster kicked their penalty to touch and Cronin rescued an iffy lineout by mopping up and finding the excellent Ruddock in support. Tadhg Furlong and Healy carried well too and it was left to Luke McGrath to nuzzle through a tiny gap and get the punishing score. Sexton bopped over the extras with little fuss. HALF-TIME: Leinster 14-3 Wasps

Try number three arrived two minutes into the second half as Leinster worked a wonderful set-play that saw Sexton find Robbie Henshaw, who fed one back inside to the charging Lowe.

The Kiwi winger scorched past three Wasps defenders and justified not passing to the beckoning Jordan Larmour by crashing over by the posts. Fullback Willie Le Roux was left picking turf out of his studs and cursing Lowe as Sexton kicked the extras to make it 21-3.

The bonus point try arrived courtesy of Luke McGrath after another stunning Lowe line and carry. He could have scored himself but was unselfish and Wasps knew their race was run.

Leinster were humming now and the next piece(s) of magic arrived when James Ryan made a bullocking run, offloaded for McGrath, Jack Conan played scrum-half, Sexton played a ‘Carlos Spencer’ pass through his legs to Robbie Henshaw and Lowe cantered over.

Sexton was brought off with 10 minutes to play and no sooner did he have a warm jacket draped over his shoulders was he celebrating Jordan Larmour’s try. Ross Byrne, the outhalf’s replacement, found Larmour after Garry Ringrose’s dummy run had opened the only gap he needed.

Henshaw got over in the left-hand corner with five minutes to go and the only blemish for the Blues was Byrne’s missed conversion from the touchline.

They are not perfect but they are the closest thing to perfect we’ve seen in club rugby since the Crusaders ran roughshod over Super Rugby in the late 1990s and mid noughties.

As if to batter that point home, Jack McGrath boshed over for try number eight as the clock ticked red.

OUR MAN OF THE MATCH: James Lowe (Leinster) – Two tries, one assist, 12 carries, 164 metres gained, 4 clean breaks, 8 defenders beaten.

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