Wednesday 25 April 2018

Leinster's hard-fought draw at Wasps may not be enough to secure Aviva quarter final

Wasps 20 Leinster 20

24 January 2015; Joe Simpson, Wasps, has his kick blocked down by Devin Toner, Leinster. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Joe Simpson, Wasps, has his kick blocked down by Devin Toner, Leinster. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Rob Kearney, Leinster, is tackled by Edd Shervington, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Eoin Reddan, Leinster, is tackled by Bradley Davies, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster's Jordi Murphy makes a break. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Fergus McFadden, Leinster, is tackled by Elliot Daly, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; The pitch at the Ricoh Arena cuts up under the pressure of a scrum. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Jordi Murphy, Leinster, is tackled by Andy Goode, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Devin Toner, Leinster, is tackled by Nathan Hughes, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Fergus McFadden, Leinster, goes over for his side's first try. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster supporters Lydia, left, and Erika Wright, originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, but living in Northampton, at the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster supporters Mark Braighwait, left, and Geoff O'Connor, from Kilkenny, at the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster supporters Keith Lucas, left, and Cliffiord Neale, from Kilkenny College, Kilkenny, at the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster supporters, from left, Cliffiord Neale, Mark Braighwait, Geoff O'Connor and Keith Lucas, all from Kilkenny College, Co. Kilkenny, at the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster supporters, from left, Stephen Ryan, aged 11, from Killester, Josh Tilly, aged 12, from Killester, and Sam Owens, aged 11, from Clontarf, at the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Wasps' Nathan Hughes dives over for a try during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Wasps' Nathan Hughes dives over for a try during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Wasps' Andy Goode sinks to his knees after his drop kick in the dying seconds goes wide during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Wasps' Andy Goode looks dejected after his drop kick in the dying seconds goes wide during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Wasps' Andy Goode sinks to his knees after his drop kick in the dying seconds goes wide during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Wasps' Andy Goode sinks to his knees after his drop kick in the dying seconds goes wide during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
Wasps' Christian Wade is tackled by Leinster's Jamie Heaslip during the Champions Cup match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
24 January 2015; Leinster supporter Josh Tilly, aged 12, from Killester, Dublin, at the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Former Ireland and Leinster player, and current BT Sport analyst, Brian O'Driscoll. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Darragh Fanning, Leinster, is tackled by Christian Wade, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Leinster's Jordi Murphy makes a break. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Rob Kearney, Leinster, is tackled by Christian Wade, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Rob Kearney, Leinster, is tackled by Christian Wade, Wasps. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
24 January 2015; Grounds staff replace turf from the pitch during the game. European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 6, Wasps v Leinster. Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

It started as a confident march and ended in a tentative tip-toe but no matter; Leinster are through to the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

It may not be in Dublin, though, after they blew a 14 point lead to allow Wasps snatch a dramatic draw; they now will hope that Bath or Toulouse don't deny them an A viva last eight tie.

Leinster dominated the first-half and had enough possession to build twice as big a lead as the 14-6 they managed through tries from Fergus McFadden and Isaac Boss.

But they lost their way - as well as Dave Kearney (shoulder) and Eoin Reddan (knee) - and Ian Madigan's nightmare from the tee (he missed four) allowed Wasps to hit back.

Both sides could have won it with late drop goal attempts; for being utterly inconsistent, neither side deserved to.

Now Leinster must await favours from elsewhere, if they don't get a Dublin last eight date, it is their own fault.

Leinster were handed an early gift when an all too fired-up Ashley Johnson carpeted Dave Kearney from the opening restart.

With only 23 seconds on the clock, the Leinster fans in the 22,000 crowd screamed for a red; last year's quarter-final precedent of Ulster's Jared Payne firmly in their sights.

Ultimately, Jerome Garces bottled it or chose discretion - take your pick - and Johnson was binned for ten minutes.

Leinster also took advantage on the scoreboard; kicking to the corner, their maul faltered but simple recycling and an effortless move from left to right, from Jamie Heaslip to Madigan, Rob Kearney and then Fergus McFadden, created the try.

Tom Varndell's tackle attempt was pitiful; Madigan's conversion was beautiful. His next two kicks? Less so as the Ireland out-half in waiting skewed two much easier penalty attempts awry.

No matter, they were well on top and Madigan's lovely break reflected Leinster's brio and vigour with ball in hand; they were playing all the rugby.

Madigan - third time lucky to end the first quarter - slotted over a three-pointer to respond to Andy Goode's brief riposte for the home side; 10-3 was the least Leinster deserved for their utter domination.

Wasps were defending - desperately at times, then too desperately as Lorenzo Cittadini was binned to atone for his side's collective run of penalty of concessions; Jimmy Gopperth assumed kicking detail and Leinster led 13-3.

Eoin Reddan's premature departure disrupted the momentum; Goode struck with a second penalty for 13-6.

On the brink of half-time, again taking advantage of the extra man, persistent pressure paid off and Isaac Boss, Reddan's replacement, pounced for the line close in.

There was still time for Kane Douglas to get himself binned for a no arms tackle; Goode, befitting his side's first-half meltdown, snap hooked his penalty wide.

The stats said it all, 22% possession, 17% territory, 12 missed tackles, six penalties conceded and two yellow cards; it was a wonder Leinster weren't utterly out of sight.

Madigan missed another penalty in the second-half in what was developing into a shocker from the tee; Leinster's defence was narrower and softer as Wasps attacked with much more conviction.

Wasps had their best period of attacking play after the break; they almost got in for their first try but Varndell could only find space because his side had been guilty of crossing.

The suckers were given an even break when replacement hooker Carlo Festuccia bundled over from a driven maul; Goode converted and, improbably it was a one-score game.

Leinster were wilting and, after their captain Jamie Heaslip went off, Wasps out-muscled Leinster again from a driving maul.

This time, Nathan Hughes arced his gangly arm over a pile of bodies for the try; Goode's extras smacked the post but an early charge offered him another chance.

This time he took it and with it, Wasps were, incredibly, level. Gopperth had a shy at the sticks from drop goal range with six minutes left. He missed.

The nine points and other scoring chances they had tossed aside earlier was now haunting them; a mistake from Elliot Daly offered Madigan absolution. For a fourth time, he missed.

And with it the chance of a home quarter-final. Goode had a chance to earn his side a knock-out berth of their own with a drop goal attempt as the clock went dead.

His kick did too. Leinster got out of here alive but it didn't feel like it as the final whistle went.

Leinster - R Kearney; F McFadden, L Fitzgerald, I Madigan, D Kearney (D Fanning 6); J Gopperth, E Reddan (Boss 29); M Bent, S Cronin (R Strauss 64), M Moore (T Furlong 64); D Toner, K Douglas; D Ryan, J Murphy, J Heaslip capt (J Conan 65). Wasps - R Miller (A Masi 61); C Wade, E Daly, B Jacobs (A Lozowski 77), T Varndell; A Goode, J Simpson; M Mullan (S McIntyre 71),E Shervington (C Festuccia 58), L Cittadini (K Myall 59), B Davies, J Gaskell, A Johnson, J Haskell capt, N Hughes (J Cooper-Woolley 36).

Referee: J Garces (France).

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