Spring-heeled Leinster look set for winter of dominance
Early faults soon gave way to some stunning rugby as Wasps feel the sting
Jack McGrath celebrates scoring Leinster’s eighth try with team-mates during the Heineken Champions Cup match against Wasps at the RDS. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Even the evening stood still for Leinster’s breathless performance. After a day of broken trees and swirling leaves in Dublin’s Ballsbridge a calm descended on the RDS for the first of their European nights.
A full house of 18,300, most of them barely reflecting on the possibility of a Leinster defeat to Premiership side Wasps, had their high confidence rewarded by a merciless rout, two first-half tries and six in the second.
In a stunning mini rampage the defending champions earned jumped out of the gate with a 52-3 win, starting their Heineken Champions Cup where they left off just a few months ago in Bilbao.
It didn’t take long for the early minutes of the game to fall into an easy settling in for both teams. But that lasted less than seven minutes.
Then out of the night shot Leinster’s wicked hooker Seán Cronin, jets on fire barrelling in on Wasps’ line on a slanted crossfield run.
‘Howya Willie’ he surely muttered as he burned past the great South African back for Leinster’s first try. Yes, it was Willie, not Ollie Le Roux.
James Lowe hit Johnny Sexton on the head with a pass, another ball inches from the line was passed poorly, then fumbled, and Robbie Henshaw consumed half the acreage of the showground before hitting turf.
But all that first-half grunt almost came to little as the Leinster accuracy betrayed them in the final 20 yards, the first half closing 14-3, Luke McGrath nipping in for a deserved second try in injury time, with Wasps gifted outhalf Lima Sopoaga in the bin for impetuously jumping from his line and slapping a Leinster ball.
Leinster were more of a juice press than a shredder in the opening 40 minutes. But the brazen Lowe stood up just as the refreshed crowd gathered to their seats after the break.
Typically taking on all in front of him, the winger streaked straight up main street from 30 yards out. Sucker punched for try three there was no way back for Wasps. The yellow card had cost them two tries.
McGrath added the fourth soon after and Leinster retired into an up-tempo, high accuracy state of cruise control.
Maybe at the beginning it wasn’t as rock’n’roll and ramped up, the all-singing all-dancing Leinster that the fans might have hoped for.
But by the end that’s exactly what they became, the popular Lowe, again his bobbing bun and quick feet, taking the Leinster try count to five and his fourth in two matches; then Jordan Larmour his first in Europe and finally Henshaw and so late Jack McGrath.
Toulouse next week in France. A winter beginning and Leinster coltish and spring heeled. This far out and already shaping the tournament.