|Heineken Champions Cup|
|Leinster (14) 52|
|Tries: Cronin, L McGrath 2, Lowe 2, Larmour, Henshaw, J McGrath Cons: Sexton 5, Byrne|
|Wasps (3) 3|
Leinster began the defence of their Champions Cup crown with a thumping 52-3 eight-try defeat of Wasps.
Luke McGrath and James Lowe scored two tries apiece while Sean Cronin, Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw and Jack McGrath also crossed for the hosts.
Lima Sopoaga got Wasps’ only score as they suffered a record European loss.
The Blues held Wasps scoreless during a second-half onslaught that showed why they are the favourites to retain their European crown this season.
Leinster visit the Stade Ernest Wallon next week to take on fellow four-time European champions Toulouse while Wasps return to the Ricoh Arena to face Bath in an all-Premiership clash.
Leinster were forced into a late change to their starting team when flanker Dan Leavy was injured in the warm-up with Rhys Ruddock coming from outside the original matchday squad to start in the back row but the champions were not hampered by the alteration by immediately testing the visitor’s defence.
Wasps, who have conceded an average of 28 points from their opening six games of the new Premiership season, initially appeared capable of withstanding the pressure when they repelled one multi-phase attack but Leinster pounced on a slight lapse in concentration in the sixth minute.
From a standing start at the base of a ruck, Cronin burst through an enormous gap in the Wasps defence to sprint 25 metres and score the game’s opening try.
Lima Sopoaga responded with the first points for Wasps when Leinster were penalised for offside but the Irish side dominated possession for the remainder of the first half.
It took a pair of superb turnovers by openside Tom Young to keep Wasps in contention as Leinster assaulted their tryline while Johnny Sexton was guilty of a dropped pass that halted a scintillating James Lowe break.
The Premiership side thought they had survived to the break before Sopoaga was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on as injury time began and Leinster took ruthless advantage of their numerical edge.
The hosts doubled their try tally before the half-time whistle when scrum-half McGrath scrambled over after wave after wave of relentless attacks.
Wasps began the second half with Sopoaga still in the sin bin and Leinster cleverly attacked down the fly-half channel at the first opportunity and again with devastating effect.
From first-phase possession, Lowe came off his wing and onto Henshaw’s clever inside pass, which sent the New Zealander charging down fly-half channel before beating Elliot Daly in a foot race to the line.
Sopoaga returned to the field shortly after Sexton added his third conversion of the night but the result was already beyond doubt and Wasps were in damage-limitation mode.
The fourth try arrived in the 53rd minute when a trademark looping attack by Sexton found Tadhg Furlong in space and the tight-head prop produced an audacious offload to Lowe, who blazed down the left wing before passing the supporting Luke McGrath to canter over.
The bonus-point secured, Leinster began to attack at every opportunity with James Ryan thundering break and Sexton’s spectacular through-the-legs pass setting up Lowe for his second try.
Wasps visibly wilted during the final quarter as their tackle count began to take its toll and Larmour finished off a slick attack when he ghosted over the line untouched thanks to Garry Ringrose’s clever decoy run.
Ringrose was also centrally involved in the next try, showing quick hands to release his centre partner Henshaw down the left wing and he showed impressive strength to score in the corner.
Referee Romain Poite had to be replaced in the closing stages after he was involved in an accidental collision with Ruddock but the lengthy injury stoppage did not deter Leinster with substitute prop Jack McGrath finishing-off a powerful maul in the 79th minute as Leinster sent an emphatic warning to the rest of Europe that they are determined to claim back-to-back titles.
‘The sin binning hurt us’
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young on BT Sport: “We fell away badly in the last 20 minutes, which was disappointing. Obviously the sin binning hurt us, conceding the just before half time.”
“It’s only us that can sort it out, it’s up to us now to sort it. I thought the intensity and physicality we showed at times was really good but you can’t do it for 60 minutes against the European champions, you’ve got to do it for the full game.”
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen on BT Sport: “We put a lot of pressure on Wasps in the first half and we had some chances but we couldn’t quite nail them until that final few minutes of the half. It was a big period in the game.”
“It’s tough on Wasps at the minute – they have a lot of guys out with injuries and suspensions. In this competition if you’re a little bit off you can find a lot of points racking up against you very quickly.”
Leinster: Kearney; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, Lowe; Sexton (c), L McGrath; Healy, Cronin, Furlong; Toner, Ryan; Ruddock, Van der Flier, Conan.
Replacements: Tracy, J McGrath, Porter, Fardy, O’Brien, McCarthy, Byrne, Tomane.
Wasps: Le Roux; Bassett, De Jongh, Le Bourgeois, Daly (c); Sopoaga, Simpson; Zhvania, Taylor, Brookes; Rowlands, Gaskell; Shields, Young, Carr.
Replacements: Cruse, Harris, Stuart, Myall, Johnson, Hampson, Searle, Miller.
Sin binned: Sopoaga (40).
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