Wasps 20 Leinster 20: Four talking points as Wasps made to wait
Hometown hero Andy Goode misses a last-gasp drop goal as Leinster hang on to reach European Champions Cup last eight
Bad day at the office for Goode
So often the hero for a number of Premiership club, Wasps outside-half Andy Goode had a day to forget with his kicking not quite up to his usual high standards. After two earlier efforts, what should have been a routine three points at the end of the first half to make the scoreline 20-9 was spurned and it didn’t get much better in the second half for the Coventry man, despite finishing the afternoon with 10 points. He was fortunate to get a second chance at the conversion for Wasps’ second try as his first drifted wide of the left upright. Leinster ruing early charging as they were forced to watch the 34-year-old use the sighter to swing his second effort inside the right upright to level the score at 20-20. The Irish province’s outside-half Jimmy Gopperth, the man set to replace Goode at the Ricoh Arena in the summer, missed a snatched drop goal with just over five minutes remaining, but the big drama came at the death as the hometown hero waited patiently for his team-mates to edge closer to the Leinster line. When his chance came, which would have secured Wasps a place in the last eight, a good charging line from Jack Conan saw Goode rush his effort and slice it horribly wide right. As Wasps face an anxious wait to see if they are one of the best three runners-up, Goode may consider expediting his retirement.
Magic Madigan made for Ireland
With Paddy Jackson ruled out of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign and Jonny Sexton certain to miss at least one of the opening two rounds, Leinster’s Ian Madigan again gave Joe Schmidt plenty to consider as he mulls over which of the Ians should be Sexton’s deputy. Again operating at inside-centre rather than shackled at outside-half, the 25-year-old ran several great lines in the first half and gave Wasps plenty of problems, while his defence was also impressive as the three-time European champions faced a relentless barrage in the second 40. His kicking out of hand and off the tee was far from perfect, which could be a problem, but Keatley’s overall inconsistency for Munster this season probably gives Madigan the edge if Ireland are to retain their Six Nations crown. His versatility also gives Ireland another option at centre or full-back and he could comfortably slot into midfield in a reshuffled backline mid-way through games and operate as a solid second receiver with Keatley at 10. That makes him far more valuable a player than his fellow Dubliner, and with only the Wolfhounds game to come ahead of the opening Six Nations contest, the signs are there that Madigan’s magic can lead Ireland until Sexton is ready to return.
Wasps sinners bin quarter-final chances
Dai Young’s men built up a superb head of steam in the second half in an unlikely comeback, but it was too little too late for the London Midlanders after spending half of the opening 40 minutes down to 14 men. Flanker Ashley Johnson became the second player to be yellow carded in the opening minute of a European match when he was ejected after just 17 seconds for taking out Ireland flanker Dave Kearney in the air from the kick-off. Leinster took full advantage by going over in the corner through Fergus McFadden, but there was more trouble to come as Italian hooker Lorenzo Cittadini was also given a 10-minute sit down after the home side had been guilty of a number of conceding a number of needless penalties and Cittdaini failed to release. Leinster again made Wasps pay with a Gopperth penalty and converted Isaac Boss try, which could have been a try for Gopperth as Garces checked for two separate grounding attempts either side of the posts. It is hard not to feel that without the two needless yellow cards, Wasps could have secured a famous victory, such was the turnaround in dominance in the second half. There was some heroic defending on their tryling in the first half, but their driving maul and direct running at Leinster in the second half caused plenty of problems. Lesser teams would have crumbled beyond repair, but Leinster aren’t three-time champions for nothing. Of course, Wasps were fortunate that Madigan wasn’t on song from the kicking tee, but at times they seemed content to gift the win to Leinster before their final burst for glory, which could have been made easier had Nathan Hughes not been pinged for obstruction as Tom Varndell ran in for what should have been a superbly worked try. Regardless of the manner of the draw and the what could have beens, the Ricoh Arena is quickly becoming the place to go for entertaining rugby, whether it is runaway wins or a nail-biting draw. With excellent facilities and a club seemingly on the up, rugby in Coventry has never looked so appealing, even if they have to wait the best part of a year for European rugby to return.
Ireland made to sweat on Leinster trio
Dave Kearney and Eoin Reddan are doubtful for Ireland’s Six Nations title campaign after going off with injuries in the first half. Leinster wing Kearney was upended in the air landing on his right wrist and shoulder by Wasps flanker Ashley Johnson with barely five seconds on the clock. There were hallmarks of Ulster full-back Jared Payne’s challenge on Saracens’ Alex Goode early in last year’s Heineken Cup quarter-final, but Johnson was only yellow carded by referee Jerôme Garces – also the referee that day last April – much to the bemusement of Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor, who made the point that they lost a player for 80 minutes while Wasps lost a man for just 10 minutes. Kearney attempted to continue, but was taken off with a “significant” right shoulder problem minutes later. Passions running high after a thrilling European contest, O’Connor presumably forgot that he was able to bring on Darragh Fanning, who was quickly involved in Leinster’s occasionally outrageous if not surprising attacking play. To compound his misery, Leinster also lost scrum-half Reddan to medial ligament damage mid-way through the first half, and the Australian coach expects both to miss Ireland’s opening match with Italy in Rome on Saturday 7 February. Boss, Reddan’s replacement also played his part in a sparkling Leinster offence that regularly turns up the heat in Europoean contests. There could also be doubts over the fitness of Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip, who went off in the second half carrying a shoulder problem, but O’Connor expects the experienced international to tough it out. Even the loss of their talisman 14 minutes from time ultimately had a positive impact on the match. Conan, his replacement, getting in Goode’s line of sight at the death epitomising a never say die attitude that just saw Leinster over the line in terms of European qualification.
Highlights: Wasps 20-20 Leinster https://t.co/wZMIAN3MIw
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