With Saracens playing away in Toulouse I checked for other Champions Cup matches to go and see. I was thrilled to see Wasps were playing host to Leinster, 2 teams I have a soft spot for and a repeat of a great fixture I’d watched last year.
I booked a Travelodge, Coventry is a very long way from Chelmsford, at the stupidly cheap price of £29 and bought my ticket – I picked well, when I got to the ground I was virtually on the halfway line just behind the Wasps bench! A fantastic view to watch what in all honesty turned out to be a surprising match.
For Wasps a place in the knock out stages of the cup was at stake, for Leinster pride and a chance to win a place in the Irish 6 Nations team were the drivers. With 2 teams chock full of classy players I was expecting a hard fought, close game. How wrong I was!
To the distress of the home fans Leinster scored a great try through Zane Kirchner on the wing, having passed the ball across the line. Jonny Sexton wasn’t able to convert but the visitors were ahead.
Jimmy Gopperth put the home team ahead after his forwards had battered the Leinster line, he received the ball and ran through a couple of defenders to score. He added the extras to his own try.
I was thrilled to be watching George Smith, one of the greatest back row players of all time in my book. He was a major factor in the next Wasps try, scored by Joe Launchbury, Smith passed, then headed the ball to Dan Robson, on for Joe Simpson who’d limped from the field, Robson passed to Launchbury who was unstoppable, he dived over to score. The try was awarded eventually after much deliberation. Gopperth missed what was a difficult conversion.
Luke Fitzgerald was penalised for a deliberate knock on as George Smith was passing the ball as he was leaving Wasps territory. A clear penalty – but not a card as my neighbour thought, the play was nowhere near the red zone.
Joe Simpson as mentioned had left the field, and Leinster had their own early blow to deal with as Sexton was led from the field with what looked like a head injury early on. It was distressing to see him leap up and make a tackle as the medical man was assessing him! Nothing wrong from a game point, again in spite of the disquiet amongst the crowd – but surely very wrong from the viewpoint of Sexton’s health!
As wonderful as George Smith was during the game, he threw a wild pass which was intercepted by Fitzgerald who has a good turn of pace, Dave Kearney was on his shoulder, Wasps piled into defence, but illegally, Cittadini saw a yellow card for his troubles.
Leinster benefited from the extra man with an amazing effort from Dave Kearney, he got the ball away as he was being bundled into touch by Jimmy Gopperth and another 3 Wasps – Eoin Reddan was quick to pick the ball up, he touched down to score and narrow the gap to 2. A Gopperth penalty increased the lead going into half time. The score was Wasps 15 Leinster 10.
Now, I’m not going to go into too much detail about the 2nd half – but, I think it’s fair to say Wasps were on fire and Leinster seemed to have stayed in the dressing room!
Wasps scored 36 unanswered points! So, tries for – Elliot Daly, Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, and Ashley Johnson and an added penalty try. Gopperth added 3 conversions and a penalty with Ruaridh Jackson adding a conversion of his own.
Elliot Daly’s try was a piece of individual brilliance, he had a great game and must have put himself in contention for a starting England spot.
Listening to the commentary the end result of Wasps 51 Leinster 10 was unexpected 5 minutes into the 2nd half, but Wasps had a quarter final place on their minds. This result meant that in spite of a Toulon win in Bath, Wasps finished at the top of the table to win a home quarter. Fantastic news for a team fully capable of going all the way.
Back to the drawing board for Leinster, they in common with the other Pro 12 teams in the tournament progress no further – a fairly shocking fact. However I suspect that with the 6 Nations only weeks away this result will have no bearing on how Ireland play. The England squad members on show excelled, with Launchbury being a deserved Man of The Match
- Cost of my wonderful view – £46.00