Ian Madigan kicks Leinster towards another final

Wasps 28 Leinster 48

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The Independent Online

Leinster will play their Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Biarritz in Dublin, with every chance of reaching a fourth European final in five years. Christian Wade won’t be at home watching – the Wasps wing will be with England in Argentina, if not with the Lions in Australia, after a blistering display of pace and punishing finishing.

Sadly for the hosts, a bright start was snuffed out by Leinster’s edge in the tight, their physicality and a ruthless display of kicking by fly-half Ian Madigan who scored 28 points.

In bygone days, these European aristocrats would have been clashing in Heineken Cup competition, having won the ultimate club prize five times between them. Winning rugby’s equivalent of the Europa League at least guarantees re-entry into that elite company next season.

Wasps left the blocks the faster, Nick Robinson’s flat pass arming Andrea Masi who carved open the Leinster defence before sending Wade sprinting clear up the right with just two minutes on the clock.

It took Leinster three minutes to reply in equal style. Fergus McFadden’s snappy pass released Gordon D’Arcy, and as Wasps waited for another pass, the Ireland centre finished in a straight line, Madigan converting.

But with Lions head coach Warren Gatland and England head coach Stuart Lancaster watching, Wade ripped asunder the visitors again on 15 minutes, taking another flat Robinson offering and scorching clear of all challengers. Robinson converted.

Madigan topped that for class on 23 minutes, dancing through some suspect tackling for a fine solo try which he also converted.

Robinson and Madigan wrapped up a splendid opening half with penalties, but it was Leinster who turned the screw from the restart. Madigan kicked another goal on 44 minutes, and when Isa Nacewa kicked ahead two minutes later, Elliot Daly fumbled, and the pack drove prop Mike Ross over for the try after securing the loose ball.

The game was won and lost on the hour. Sean O’Brien stormed up the right, and by the time he was halted, Rob Kearney was in support for Leinster’s fourth try.

Nacewa added a fifth try in between two fine finishes by Tom Varndell, who scored when it was actually too late to matter.

Scorers: Wasps: Tries Wade 2, Varndell 2. Con Robinson. Pens Robinson 2.  Leinster: Tries D’Arcy, Madigan, Ross, R Kearney, Nacewa. Cons Madigan 4. Pens Madigan 5.

Wasps E Daly; C Wade, A Masi, C Bell, T Varndell; N Robinson, J Simpson; S Taulafo, T Thomas, P Swainston, T Palmer, M Wentzel (c), J Launchbury, A Johnson, S Jones.

Leinster  R Kearney; D Kearney, F McFadden, G D’Arcy, I Nacewa; I Madigan, I Boss; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross, L Cullen (c), D Toner, K McLaughlin, J Heaslip, S O’Brien.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France).