©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Homeward Bound

Reaction: Leinster win Wasps shoot-out to set up Biarritz brawl

Joe Schmidt could only laugh at the end of his quarter-final victory at Adams Park.

ONLY THE AMLIN Challenge Cup can throw up this kind of madness.

In Brive in 2011, Munster engaged in a match that ended up similarly fractured.

In High Wycombe Leinster were not subjected to the intense heat which cause Munster to let the buffer slip. So, instead, the gap gulf continued to widen the further the game went on.

28 – 48, it finished. 76 points, with nine tries.

“I’m glad we did our homework on Christian Wade and Tom Varndell,” Joe Schmidt wryly told Sky post-match.  ”Maybe they would have got four each if we didn’t.”

He added: “I think the ground was very, very fast. So the match got a tempo all of its own. Any loose balls bouncing around bobbled all over the place so you couldn’t afford to get too loose.”

Loose was just what both sides were in the beginning exchanges. Wasps, coming into the game on the back of four straight defeats were wary that they couldn’t win a conventional scrap, but they surely couldn’t have believed their luck when Leinster arrived at 70%.

The first half of the Challenge Cup’s second quarter final defied largely defied analysis.

The intensity was a severe step below what will be offered up in France and England over the next two days. The reduced concentration in defence and the tackle being almost an optional extra meant Andrea Masi, Nicky Robinson and the sparkling Christian Wade (whose second try was the game’s highlight) were able to make hay.

At the other end, though, Leinster had their own striker runners and they were able to hit back with a straight line from Gordon D’Arcy or a Madigan step.

The champions of Europe carried a 15 -20 lead into half time. And they looked as though Schmidt had given a sharp reminder of the game-plan.

“We just said we need to be tighter, look after the ball a bit better. I felt once we got a little bit of momentum, we did get a bit of territory and we  felt we could finish it off.”

That’s how it started, anyway. Soon enough, the game was back to it’s old tricks. Hell, even Mike Ross got on the score-sheet, barging over to round off an 80-metre break.

Rob Kearney and Tom Varndell (twice) would claim the remaining tries, Leinster were home and hosed long before the final whistle. And the travelling support began to think ahead to a meeting with Biarritz on April 27. A Dublin semi-final before hosting a final at the RDS, perhaps that’s the kind of send-off Jonathan Sexton and Isa Nacewa would enjoy (we’ll optimistically leave Brian O’Driscoll off that list).

‘A lot to work on’

“We owed this one to our supporters.” Schmidt said. “We really slipped up last week. It’ll be great to get a home semi-final, I think it’ll be tough, Biarritz were very impressive last night.”

“There was a few defensive things which we were not that happy with, we’ve a lot to work on, but there was some nicely created opportunities that we took.”

Taking opportunities rather than scuppering them is a nice change of pace after an excruciating spring of international rugby. So, how about that Ireland job, Joe?

“I’ve got enough on my plate to be honest.” The Kiwi said with a nervous smile. “This is very much a full-time job. There are things we need to work on from tonight and we’re  away to Munster next week so it gets no easier.”

Biarritz earned their place in Dublin by winning their own shoot-out, 31-41 away to Gloucester last night.

In tonight’s other Challenge Cup quarter-final, Perpignan knocked out Toulouse 30 – 19 thanks to 15 points from James Hook and tries from Farid Sid, Sebastien Taofifenua and Sebastian Vahaamahina.

They will meet the winners of tomorrow’s meeting between Bath and Stade Francais.

9 great reasons to watch European Rugby this weekend

As it happened: Wasps v Leinster, Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.