Friday 20 April 2018

Wasps sing after winning at Quins but Toner confident they won't sting Blues

Leinster's Devin Toner
Leinster's Devin Toner
David Kelly

David Kelly

IF Leinster are finding form at the business end of European qualification, their rivals for a potential home quarter-final Wasps, are also hitting their straps when it matters most.

Both these sides warmed up for the Pool 2 decider at Coventry's Ricoh Arena next Saturday lunchtime with contrasting successes.

As Leinster effected their predicted turkey shoot with ease, Wasps, backboned by an incredible 199 tackles, staged a stunning smash and grab at the Stoop to almost certainly floor the last-eight hopes of Conor O'Shea's Harlequins.

"It will be a new match," declared James Haskell, the back-row forward who personifies a club who have come from five years of European exile to brink of a quarter-final.

This time last year, Haskell was a journeyman in Japan; now he is being touted for an England starting spot after his 28 tackles. Other business will come first.

"We can't allow a team to keep as much ball as they did tonight because Leinster are too dangerous. This will be a real test for us. We know what the occasion will be. If we can get the win then hopefully we will bring the house down."

Harlequins dominated all the stats but, after Danny Care's ambitious tap and go was intercepted by Christian Wade and then visiting scrum-half Joe Simpson sold a hatful of dummies to score a second try, there was no way back.

"We were tested by a good side," said Haskell. "I don't know how they didn't get through. The amount of passes they put together, the amount of tackles we had to make.

"That is what European rugby is about: going to a dark, dark place, playing until you can't play anymore and doing it again week in, week out and playing against the best opposition.

"I don't like to get too carried away. We had a sing song after the game but we haven't won anything yet. By Monday morning it will be back to business as usual.

"Leinster at home - that is what dreams are made of. It is a huge, huge occasion that some of these boys won't have experienced before."

The sides have met in Challenge Cup fare two seasons back; Leinster cruised to a quarter-final and the switch from that venue, Adams Park, to the more spacious Ricoh poses no fears for Leinster second-row Devin Toner (left).

"We have a good back-line and if we can get them a good bit of space, I'd back them against anyone," he said.

"I hope this was a red letter day for us. For these lads to get that experience today and to come out of that fashion, will really stand to them.

"It's hugely important that we have the confidence in them. We know they're very young and don't have a huge amount of experience, but to see lads come on and know they can do a job for you is massive.

"Everyone now wants to play every week. If we have everyone playing to the best of their ability, it's a hard team to get into.

"We're getting there. We had the confidence building and we knew we had it in us.

"Not getting those performances has been frustrating, but in the last couple of weeks the performances have been pretty positive.

"A lot of it had to do with the set-piece. Recently, we might have won the line-out but we wouldn't have used the ball as well as we would have liked.

"And we wouldn't be getting clean ball out of the scrum and then our breakdown has struggled too.

"So just to get that platform tonight was good. We took our chances tonight. It's going to be hugely different next week."

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