Leinster came through a tough first examination in the European Champions Cup as they edged out Wasps 25-20 at the RDS Arena yesterday.
Alapati Leiua’s 23rd-minute try was added to by a cracking Christian Wade score as Wasps built a 20-11 half-time lead, with Andy Goode kicking 10 points.
Two penalties from Ian Madigan, coupled with a try from European debutant Darragh Fanning, kept Leinster in touch and they went up through the gears with tries from Fanning and Dominic Ryan late in the game.
But Wasps’ industrious defence earned them a deserved losing bonus point as they kept the Irish province at bay in the closing stages.
In their first European outing since Brian O’Driscoll’s retirement, injury-hit Leinster were without 10 players who lined up in last April’s quarter-final against Toulon.
The hosts settled quickly and Madigan sent an early penalty over, but Wasps, who were without captain James Haskell owing to illness, twice replied through two Goode penalties to take the lead.
It got even better for the visitors when Noel Reid’s attempted pass to Fanning was gathered by Leiua just outside the Wasps 22 and the Samoan centre had the gas to run over unopposed.
Leinster replied just four minutes later when Jimmy Gopperth’s inviting grubber kick was grounded by Fanning in the left corner. Madigan missed his conversion and Wasps added to their lead before the break.
Winger Wade sprinted past Madigan, evaded Fanning’s attempted tap tackle and dived over in the right corner. However, Goode’s terrific touchline conversion was matched by Madigan with the last kick of the half.
Leinster had to weather some early second-half pressure before eating into Wasps’ nine-point lead when Sean Cronin carried the ball twice to good effect and Jamie Heaslip again made crucial yardage before Eoin Reddan released Fanning to go over on the right. Madigan’s conversion closed the gap to two points.
Leinster were looking increasingly potent, with hooker Cronin careering through tackles, helping to win possession that led to flanker Ryan powering over the line from a few metres out. The television match official Derek Bevan confirmed that Ryan had grounded the ball and Madigan added the extras as Leinster took the lead.
The bonus point try eluded Matt O’Connor’s men, but this win put them with Harlequins at the top of Pool Two.
Leinster: Tries Fanning 2, Ryan; Conversions Madigan 2; Penalties Madigan 2. Wasps: Tries Leiua, Wade; Conversions Goode 2; Penalties Goode 2.
Leinster I Madigan; Z Kirchner, G D’Arcy, N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, E Reddan (I Boss, 62); J McGrath, S Cronin (R Strauss, 65), M Bent (T Furlong, 65), M McCarthy (K Douglas, 48), D Toner, R Ruddock, D Ryan, J Heaslip.
Wasps A Masi (Miller, 30); C Wade, E Daly, A Leiua, S Tagicakibau; A Goode (C Bell, 64), J Simpson; M Mullan (S McIntyre, 72), C Festuccia (T Lindsay, 76), L Cittadini (J Cooper-Woolley, 62), J Launchbury, B Davies (J Gaskell, 64), A Johnson, Thompson (Jones, 41), Hughes.
Referee L Hodges (Wales).
Wasps’ defence earned them a bonus point
Darragh Fanning scored two tries for Leinster yesterdayReuse content