8-try Leinster begin defence of their Heineken Champions Cup title in style at the RDS

Leinster Rugby 52 Wasps 3

Reigning Heineken Champions Cup holders, Leinster Rugby, opened the defence of their title at the RDS with an emphatic 52-3 win over Gallagher Rugby Premiership side Wasps on Friday night.

It took Leo Cullen’s side only six minutes to get their new European season off to the perfect start as Seán Cronin burst through the Wasps’ defensive effort to touch down for a try. An easy conversion for Johnny Sexton saw the home side take an early 7-0 advantage.

Wasps only score of the game saw Wellington, New Zealand-born Lima Sopoaga, a man with Super Rugby experience, score a penalty for the visitors.

Despite possession and territory being dominated by Leinster, it took them until the clock was in the red at the end of the opening period to add to their tenuous lead. Luke McGrath darted across the whitewash to punish Wasps, who at that stage were down to 14 men. Moments earlier Sopoaga had been yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on in an effort to disrupt a promising-looking Leinster attacking move. With McGrath scoring the try and Sexton added the extras, the home side made Sopoaga and the English club side pay for the flyhalf’s indiscretion, to lead the game 14-3 at the interval.

James Lowe got the second half underway in style with a brilliant individual try in the 42nd minute, the first of his brace on the opening weekend of European rugby’s premier tournament. Lowe sliced through the Wasps defence with the English side unsure of how to deal with the Leinster winger. With the crowd on their feet willing their new star to score, Lowe duly obliged and set up an easy conversion for Sexton, making it three successful conversions for the Leinsterman so far on the night.

Luke McGrath achieved his own brace of tries when receiving a perfctly-timed pass from Lowe, who was later named Heineken Man of the Match, leaving the Leinster no. 9 with the easy task of crossing the line at his ease. Lowe had done all the hard work, having made territory down the wing. Sexton had another simple kick for the conversion, as he pushed his side out to 28-3 on the scoreboard.

With the bonus point achieved, Leinster wanted to put on an exhibition. James Lowe scored his second five-pointer of the night, and with Sexton kicking his most difficult conversion of the game, the home side were out of sight.

Jordan Larmour added to the Leinster Rugby try-fest when crossing for his side’s 6th try, minutes later they scored another through the impressive Robbie Henshaw, before Jack McGrath got his name on the scoresheet with yet another five-pointer. Ross Byrne converted the first of his three attempts to leave Leo Cullen’s side easy winners of their opening home tie in this difficult Heineken Champions Cup group.

Leinster scorers:
Tries: Cronin 6’, McGrath 41’+2, 52’ Lowe 41’, 61’, Larmour 73’, Henshaw 75’, McGrath 80’
Conversions: Sexton 7’, 41’+ 4, 43’, 54’, 63’; Byrne 74’

Wasps scorers:
Penalties: Sopoaga 11’


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