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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 28 November 2020


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Good afternoon and welcome along to our minute-by-minute coverage of today’s Pool 1 clash between Wasps and Leinster.

Following Edinburgh’s 19-10 victory over Montpellier on Friday night, Leo Cullen’s men already have their place in the knockout stages of this year’s Champions Cup booked, making today’s game at the Ricoh Arena all about securing home advantage in the quarter-finals.

It was only three years ago that Leinster were licking their wounds after suffering a heavy 51-10 defeat away to Wasps, but all’s changed, changed utterly since that eight-try shock as the Irish province now seek to defend their European crown in 2019 having delivered the performance of champions against Toulouse last Saturday.

Kick-off in Coventry is an hour away at 3.15pm, with today’s game live on BT Sport 3 if you’re near a TV.

TEAM NEWS: England international Elliot Daly makes his return to the Wasps line-up today to face Leinster.

He took a mandatory week off for his autumn international exertions but starts on the wing as Wasps try and secure their first pool win at the sixth time of trying.

South Africans Juan de Jongh and Willie le Roux are both missing, but Nizaam Carr and Ashley Johnson are in Dai Young’s 23-man squad today.

Thomas Young, who was recalled for Wales midweek, misses out with a shoulder issue, while in a late change Ben Morris comes in to replace Brad Shields in the back row — with James Gaskell named on the bench.


15. Rob Miller; 
14. Josh Bassett
13. Michele Campagnaro
12. Gaby Lovobalavu
11. Elliot Daly
10. Lima Sopoaga
9. Dan Robson

1. Zurabi Zhvania
2. Tom Cruse
3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
4. Joe Launchbury (c)
5. Will Rowlands
6. Ben Morris
7. Nizaam Carr
8. Nathan Hughes


16. Ashley Johnson
17. Ben Harris
18. Will Stuart
19. Charlie Matthews
20. James Gaskell
21. Craig Hampson
22. Billy Searle
23. Marcus Watson

TEAM NEWS: Jack McGrath, Devin Toner and Robbie Henshaw all return to the Leinster team to face Wasps today.

Toner and Henshaw both missed last weekend’s win over Toulouse through injury, with McGrath learning of Leinster’s strength in-depth in being left out of the matchday squad entirely. 

Henshaw returns from a hamstring injury ahead of schedule, having been expected to miss the opening of the Six Nations. He replaces Rory O’Loughlin, with Toner coming into the team in place of Scott Fardy, who drops to the bench. Cian Healy is also relegated to the bench to allow for the return of McGrath.

While in a late switch, Jack Conan has not recovered in time from a shoulder injury to feature, meaning Seán O’Brien makes the starting XV for just his third start of the season — with Max Deegan called up to the bench by Leo Cullen.

Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney both remain absent.


15. Jordan Larmour
14. Adam Byrne
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Dave Kearney
10. Ross Byrne
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Jack McGrath
2. Sean Cronin 
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Rhys Ruddock (captain)
7. Josh Van der Flier
8. Seán O’Brien


16. James Tracy
17. Cian Healy
18. Andrew Porter
19. Scott Fardy
20. Max Deegan
21. Hugh O’Sullivan
22. Noel Reid
23. Rory O’Loughlin

The tables have turned for Leinster since that dismal 51-10 defeat here in January 2016.

“The eight-try humiliation in round six three seasons ago brought the curtain down on a nightmare European campaign for Leo Cullen’s side, but Leinster have rebuilt and rebounded to become a heavyweight force again,” writes Ryan Bailey ahead of today’s game.

“The eastern province arrive in the English Midlands for this Pool 1 encounter already assured of a quarter-final berth, but the importance of securing home advantage in the last eight cannot be underestimated. Leinster’s sole focus will be on winning.”

Read our full preview of this afternoon’s clash here.

It’s a massive day for Seán O’Brien, as he makes just his third start of the season for Leinster.

The number 8 broke his arm against Argentina in Dublin back in November and has not featured for province or country since.

Head coach Leo Cullen said O’Brien was ‘dying to get back’ speaking this week. 

Leinsters Sean O'Brien Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“Seánie’s going well, he’s worked hard to get back,” Cullen said at Friday’s press conference.

“And just the experience that he has, he gives us good coverage off the bench as well, he’s played six, seven and eight, which makes a big difference.

“He’s trained well, he’s so excited just about playing and is dying to get back. Hopefully, it all goes well for him.”

With Jack Conan a late absence today after failing to recover in time from a shoulder set-back, the Carlow man gets his chance.

AS IT STANDS: Leinster know that a win in Coventry this afternoon will secure top spot in Pool 1 and ensure a home quarter-final as the third best pool winner, with Cullen’s men likely to face Toulouse for the third time this season in the knockout stages (assuming the French side beat Bath with a bonus point). Wasps, meanwhile, have long been out of contention having suffered a bruising defeat to Leinster in the opening round. They are playing for nothing but pride here today.

Screen Shot 2019-01-20 at 14.43.05

There’s a little under half an hour to go before we get underway at the Ricoh Arena at 3.15pm. How do we see today’s game unfolding? Let us know below.

Poll Results:

Leinster win (676)
Wasps win (35)
Draw (12)

Murray Kinsella is our man own on the ground in Coventry this afternoon, while it’s Aaron Gallagher steering you through the trials and tribulations of today’s game.


1 mins – A good chase from Elliot Daly from the kick-off, but captain Rhys Ruddock takes command and catches the early high ball before kicking an awkward ball behind. 


2 mins – Possession is kicked in the direction of Dave Kearney who successfully runs it over the Wasp 10m line. Good early pressure here from Leinster.


3 mins – Jordan Larmour tries to dart infield with some dancing feet, but a poor pass out wide goes out into touch. Nathan Hughes is down injured for Wasps and receiving treatment while we await the opening lineout for the visitors.

Jordan Larmour with Nizaam Carr and Gaby Lovobalavu Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


4 mins – Good play from Jamison Gibson-Park after the lineout following some quick, snappy hands from Robbie Henshaw to fizz the ball across. Ross Byrne attempts a grubber kick along the floor, but it’s forced out into touch.


5 mins – Another nice bit of play from Henshaw. He provides a deft kick into the corner aimed at Dave Kearney, but the ball flies out of play as Wasps claim a 5m throw before playing away from danger.


7 mins – Lovely play from Leinster as quick hands set Kearney off with intent down the left, but the ball just slips out for a Wasps throw inside the 22m line. Sustained pressure from the visitors here at the moment but we’re still level pegging.


9 mins – Worry for Wasps fans now as captain Joe Launchbury goes down requiring treatment. He appeared to take a shoulder while competing with Devin Toner, with Launchbury already missing three months this season out injured. He might need a HIA here as play stops.

Joe Launchbury leaves the field for a head injury assessment Source: Gary Carr/INPHO


10 mins – A Wasps lineout is scooped up brilliantly by Gibson-Park after James Ryan’s interception, as Leinster set the tempo again. Sean O’Brien takes possession and barrages through a host of challenges which gets the travelling supporters going. They’re glad to see him back fit and fighting again.


13 mins — Penalty! Wasps 0-3 Leinster (Byrne)

Wasps concede a penalty for offside and Ross Byrne kicks between the points to get Leinster up and running. A calm and easy kick to chip over comfortably and Leinster lead in Coventry.

Flag 17Mins

17 mins — TRY! Wasps 0-8 Leinster (Ringrose)

Garry Ringrose dives over powerfully from close range from the lineout after Byrne’s brilliant kick. Dominant play from the reigning European champions as Wasps fade and fade.

Garry Ringrose scores a try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


18 mins — Conversion. Wasps 0-10 Leinster (Byrne)

Ross Byrne kicks over the extras as Leinster glide into a ten point lead before the twenty minute mark. Another clean kick from Byrne and it’s two from two from the tee for him.


20 mins – Joe Launchbury meanwhile has passed his HIA after that coming together with Devin Toner, but the captain won’t come back on for Wasps.


22 mins — Leinster are called into defence for the first time this afternoon. Lima Sopoaga is getting a lot more involved here, making tidy carries with ball in hand with plenty of intent and purpose.


25 mins — The game’s first scrum after a knock-on is conceded by Wasps. Lovobalavu and Campagnaro try and take on Robbie Henshaw, but Nathan Hughes is flagged offside. Leinster get the penalty and Ross Byrne kicks into touch.

Sean O'Brien with Gaby Lovobalavu Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


27 mins — Wasps are leaking penalties left and right at the moment at the breakdown, conceding five penalties to their opponents one so far. James Ryan took the ball into contact and Tom Cruse was flagged for not rolling away. Poor discipline more than anything else.


28 mins — Penalty! Wasps 0-13 Leinster (Byrne)

Ross Byrne kicks over to make it 13-0 just before the half hour mark. His points tally stands at eight at the moment.


31 mins – Leinster successfully snatch the restart, but a floating kick is caught high and well by Josh Bassett. Over at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, Toulouse have snatched a second try against Bath as they go in search of a bonus point win in Pool 1.


33 mins – A sixth penalty conceded by Wasps, this time it’s Nizaam Carr. A fourth offside penalty for the English side here.

Flag 34Mins

34 mins — TRY! Wasps 0-18 Leinster (Cronin)

A brilliant maul from Leinster sees Sean Cronin snatch his fifth try in Europe this season. Wasps falter inside their own 22 as the visitors push and push before Cronin grounds with precision.

Sean O'Brien Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


36 mins — Conversion. Wasps 0-20 Leinster (Byrne)

Byrne lands the conversion with no fuss and Leinster are beginning to run away with this, twenty points to no reply. Two top quality tries from Ringrose and Cronin in this first half.


38 mins – A knock-on concedes a late scrum for Wasps as they go in search of a flourish to end the first half. Rob Miller makes a dart behind as Lovobalavu etches closer towards the 5m line. A strong finish to a stop-start opening half for the hosts here.


A very strong first-half display from Leinster. Garry Ringrose’s early try set the tempo, before the free-scoring Sean Cronin added another shortly before the break. Wasps have been very sloppy, conceding numerous unnecessary penalties which Ross Byrne has taken advantage of. Leo Cullen’s men on track to top Pool 1 and secure home advantage in their Champions Cup quarter-final. More action to come shorty!


42 mins – Dan Robson races through following a carry from Nathan Hughes as early gaps begin to occur in the Leinster defence. Robbie Henshaw stands his ground though, with Josh van der Flier helping out to dispossess Robson before he picked up too much momentum, stopping him in his tracks.

Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier with Nathan Hughes Source: Gary Carr/INPHO


44 mins – Kicks shared back and forth between the sides, before Leinster concede a knock-on, giving Wasps a scrum near their own 10m line. A lot more energy about Dai Young’s men in this second half, but they might have left themselves too much work to make up during a poor opening 40 minutes.


46 mins – An early switch from Leo Cullen as Cian Healy is replaced by Jack McGrath in the front row.


45 mins – Yep, a lot better from Wasps here so far. Some good interplay involving Elliot Daly before Rhys Ruddock strips the ball away. A foot touch by Adam Byrne gives the hosts a throw near the 22.

Elliot Daly with Adam Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park Source: Gary Carr; ©INPHO/Gary Carr/INPHO


48 mins – Penalty advantage for Wasps. Dan Robson looked to be through there, but the referee pulls it back and the crowd releases a chorus of boos. The penalty is kicked into the corner and from the lineout and Hughes battles to come within 5m. Wasps coming close here.


50 mins – Wasps beginning to build possession and gain territory here. But Leinster clear to the 22m line and that offers some momentary respite for the defending European champions. Throw to the hosts.


52 mins – Jake Cooper-Woolley tries to barge through the Leinster backline, but there’s no way through. Wasps knocking on the door here.

Tadhg Furlong with Jake Cooper-Woolley and Charlie Matthews Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

53 mins — TRY! Wasps 5-20 Leinster (Hughes)

Wasps get their first score on the board as Nathan Hughes smashes over following a period of sustained pressure. Campagnaro faced up against James Ryan, but Hughes scooped possession quickly before breaking through on his own.


55 mins — Conversion. Wasps 7-20 Leinster (Sopoaga)

Lima Sopoaga adds the extras and converts the conversion with ease. Leinster’s lead is cut to thirteen points as Wasps take advantage of this current purple patch. They’ve been a lot better since the break, you have to say.


56 mins – Another change from Leo Cullen as Sean O’Brien is replaced by Max Deegan off the bench. A solid, solid first game back for the Carlow man after that horrible arm break against Argentina in November.

Sean O'Brien with Gaby Lovobalavu Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


59 mins — TRY! Wasps 7-25 Leinster (Cronin)

A third try for Leinster and it’s the perfect response to Hughes’ effort at the other end just a few minutes before. Sean Cronin gets his second of the afternoon after another expert driving maul from close range. He can’t be stopped at the moment, can he?


60 mins — Conversion. Wasps 7-27 Leinster (Byrne)

Ross Byrne with another accurate conversion to restore Leinster’s twenty point lead here. It’s a tremendous kick out wide from the 23-year-old Dubliner.


63 mins – Scrum to Wasps after Leinster mauled their lineout out to the halfway, before losing it forward. The hosts win the scrum, with Dan Robson dictating playing outside the 22 looking dangerous.

Dan Robson with Jamison Gibson-Park Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Flag 63Mins

63 mins — TRY! Wasps 12-27 Leinster (Robson)

Robson takes full advantage and drives through unimpeded. Great vision and footwork from the 26-year-old to break through and register his side’s second try of the afternoon. They’re making a game of it the best they can here.


64 mins — Conversion. Wasps 14-27 Leinster (Sopoaga)

Lima Sopoaga with the extras, kicking sweetly off his right boot and between the posts. Thirteen points the difference now.

66 mins – Ross Byrne requires some medical attention after a clash of heads with Gaby Lovobalavu. Leo Cullen makes a set of changes, with Noel Reid on for Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin on in place of Robbie Henshaw off the bench.

Robbie Henshaw with Gaby Lovobalavu and Michele Campagnaro Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Flag 68Mins

68 mins — TRY! Wasps 14-32 Leinster (Reid)

An excellent try from Noel Reid after some brilliant support play running through by Max Deegan. Absolutely clinical from Cian Healy running through before offloading.


70 mins — Conversion. Wasps 14-34 Leinster (Sopoaga)

Reid successfully kicks his own conversion with Ross Byrne having been taken off. That was the bonus point try Leinster were looking for as they hold onto top spot in Pool 1 ahead of the quarter-finals.

73 mins – So as things stand at the moment Leinster will secure a home quarter-final, finishing third best of the Pool winners. Right now it will be Leinster vs Ulster and Racing 92 vs Toulouse.

Lima Sopoaga makes a break Source: James Crombie/INPHO


75 mins – Hugh O’Sullivan is brought on to make his European debut at the age of 20 for Leinster. He replaces Jamison Gibson-Park off the bench.


76 mins – A late scrum to Wasps here as the clock ticks down, after a loose pass went to touch for a Leinster throw just past the halfway. This will be 15 wins from their last 17 for Leinster — an impressive record if ever there was one. 


78 mins — TRY! Wasps 19-34 Leinster (Watson)

Marcus Watson with a late try for Wasps along the left. It’s an excellent overlap from the 27-year-old wing, his first try in European competition. The conversion goes astray, however, flying well wide of the posts.

80 mins — Penalty! Wasps 19-37 Leinster (Reid)

Noel Reid makes a sizeable contribution off the bench, adding to his try and conversion with a pinpoint penalty late on in what proves to be the last kick of the game. A fine kick.

Noel Reid celebrates scoring a try with Dave Kearney, Rory OÕLoughlin and Jamison Gibson-Park Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Another impressive performance on the road from Leinster as they secure a bonus point victory and earn top spot in Pool 1, ensuring a home quarter-final against Ulster. Thanks a million for joining us this afternoon. You can read Murray Kinsella’s report from the Ricoh Arena here.  Cya!

Ahead of the final weekend of European pool games, Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look at what each of the provinces can expect, and who impressed last weekend:

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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