Young guns star for Leinster in win over Wasps

Date published: April 1 2017

A superb first half showing laid the platform as Leinster moved into the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup following an excellent 32-17 triumph over Wasps in the last eight.

Leo Cullen’s men dominated the opening period and appeared to have the game won by half-time after Isa Nacewa, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw all crossed the whitewash.

Jimmy Gopperth’s penalty was the English outfit’s only score before the break and they also struggled at the start of the second half.

Johnny Sexton kicked another three-pointer to extend their buffer and at that point the match was effectively over. Christian Wade and Gopperth went over to give Wasps hope but Fergus McFadden’s touchdown completed the victory.

Knockout rugby is meant to be a tight contest but the opening half-hour, between two attack-orientated teams, proved to be a free-flowing affair.

It was mainly the hosts that showed their hand, though, and their big runners were causing problems for the small Wasps backline.

Conan and Sean O’Brien were magnificent and the Irish province deserved the 8-0 advantage given to them by Sexton’s penalty and Nacewa’s try. Joey Carbery was another to enjoy the wide open spaces and the full-back’s superb cut-out pass set up the winger’s score.

The visitors were struggling to find their fluency and when they did – after a Kurtley Beale break sent Willie le Roux clear – the South African international inexplicably dropped the ball across the whitewash.

That was a costly error, despite Gopperth reducing the arrears from the tee soon after, as Leinster scored their second try. Once again Carbery was the instigator, finding space on the right hand side for McFadden to break clear before good support play by Conan saw the number eight scamper over.

Henshaw then touched down following a stolen lineout and a 22-3 buffer at the interval was what Cullen’s side deserved for their dominance.

The Irish province maintained their momentum in the early stages of the second period and a Sexton penalty made the task even harder for the Premiership outfit.

To their credit, Wasps improved and a piece of individual brilliance by Wade got them back into the contest before another solo effort, this time from Gopperth, made it an eight-point game with 20 minutes remaining.

Questions were now being asked of the three-time European champions but they answered them magnificently and McFadden’s late try sealed their semi-final place.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Nacewa, Conan, Henshaw, McFadden
Cons: Sexton 3
Pens: Sexton 2

For Wasps:
Tries: Wade, Gopperth
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Gopperth

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Dan Leavy, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Fergus McFadden, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Josh Bassett.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

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