Wasps vs Leinster match report: Andy Goode misses last-second drop-goal to leave battling Wasps in limbo

Wasps 20 Leinster 20: Dramatic draw leaves English team on  tenterhooks as Leinster make last eight

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The Independent Online

Leinster did enough to win this concluding Champions Cup pool match, but they would have lost it had Wasps’ local lad Andy Goode not skewed an added-time drop at goal wide of the posts.

In the end the Irish province, the three-time European champions and reigning Pro12 title holders, settled for a draw that left them top of the group and safely in the quarter-finals. Wasps, who looked out of contention during a thoroughly one-sided first half, must wait for today’s results to see if they have done enough to qualify as one of the three best-performing runners-up.

A sizeable Irish support contributed to another bumper attendance for the third match of Wasps’ new era as owners of the Ricoh Arena. The noise generated during the home team’s rousing fightback suggested that all the flag-waving fans have taken the new arrivals to their hearts. Goode was distraught at being unable to put a capital F on the fairytale, as his late shot from 35 metres curved away from the target, but he and his stunningly obdurate captain, James Haskell, knew the result ought to have been very different.

 

“I’m a big realist and I’m pleased we pushed a very good Irish side right to the end,” said Haskell, whose team, along with Bath, are bidding to be the first to reach the knockout stage after losing their first two pool matches. “Leinster looked like a million dollars in the first half and when you can’t adjust against them, you feel like you’re drowning.”

That Wasps are still afloat is a fine effort considered they scrambled into this competition via a play-off last season. When the score was only 13-6 to Leinster after 35 minutes, it was a huge misrepresentation of the balance of play; that was due in part to two penalty misses by inside centre Ian Madigan, who is likely to start at fly-half for Ireland against Italy on Saturday week, in the absence of the concussed Johnny Sexton.

The match started badly for Wasps. They lost Ashley Johnson to the sin bin when the flanker made a reckless tackle chasing the kick-off and flipped Dave Kearney over in midair. The Ireland wing left the field with an injured shoulder, and it can only have been a lack of clear intent that prevented Johnson seeing red. Outside the ground, which is still branded all around with the crest of original primary tenants Coventry City FC, there are marketing posters that associate Wasps with local heroes. One of them bills Johnson and his back-row buddies Haskell and Nathan Hughes as “The Specials”. Maybe Terry Hall and company will reciprocate with a rewrite in tribute to the Wasps director of rugby: “You Can’t Have Too Much Dai Young”.

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Rob Kearney attempts to ride the tackle from Christian Wade

Young himself was furious with the referee Jerome Garces’ officiating of the breakdown, while Young’s Leinster counterpart Matt O’Connor bemoaned the disparity in outcome for Johnson and Kearney. “The frustration for us is we lose a bloke for 80 minutes and a few weeks, and they [Wasps] lose a bloke for 10 minutes,” O’Connor grumbled.

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Tom Varndell closes in on the try line

By the third minute Wasps were 7-0 down. Jimmy Gopperth, the fly-half who will play for Wasps next season, punted a penalty to the corner, Dominic Ryan palmed the line-out into the heart of the pack, and a couple of rucks later, Madigan and Dave Kearney’s brother Rob fed Fergus McFadden to score a try wide on the right, Madigan converting.

Goode kicked a penalty in reply, but still it was almost all Leinster with their brisk handling, killer pods of rucking, and power scrummaging. Madigan let Wasps off the hook with a wasted overlap but he converted a penalty on 20 minutes after his two misses. Leinster’s scrum-half Eoin Reddan limped off after twisting a knee – another injury worry for Ireland – but when Jordi Murphy ran sweetly through a gap off a line-out, Wasps’ scramble cost them a second yellow card to the prop Lorenzo Cittadini and a penalty kicked by Jimmy Gopperth while Madigan was receiving treatment to an ankle. Goode’s penalty reply had Wasps within seven points.

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Nathan Hughes scores for Wasps in the 20-20 draw with Leinster

Common sense was served, eventually. A dozen Leinster phases following a scrum culminated in a try for Reddan’s replacement Isaac Boss, converted by Madigan, although Wasps had the fillip of seeing the visitors’ lock Kane Douglas in the bin for a late tackle.

Tom Varndell had a try disallowed for obstruction, as Wasps bungled an overlap early in the second half, then Madigan missed a third penalty; he would be off target again on 76 minutes after Elliot Daly tackled Jack Conan at the side of a ruck.

In between Wasps had two tries converted by Goode in a rollocking 10 minutes. Matt Mullan rounded off waves of round-the-corner attack, then a Wasps line-out and a couple of drives ended with Hughes stretching to score adroitly over a ruck. Gopperth sent a drop wide, and Goode did too, but both might just end up going through.

Line-ups:

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, 73), E Shervington (C Festuccia, 58), L Cittadini (J Cooper-Woolley, 50), B Davies, J Gaskell (K Myall, 58), A Johnson, J Haskell (capt), N Hughes (J Cooper-Woolley, 36-41).

Leinster: R Kearney; F McFadden, L Fitzgerald, I Madigan, D Kearney (D Fanning, 5); J Gopperth, E Reddan (I Boss, 27); M Bent, S Cronin (R Strauss, 63), M Moore (T Furlong, 63), D Toner, K Douglas (M McCarthy, 71), D Ryan, J Murphy, J Heaslip (capt, J Conan 65).

Referee: J Garces (France).

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