Leinster 52-3 Wasps: Leinster start title defence with record win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 13/10/18 11:24am
Luke McGrath and James Lowe's tries either side of half-time lit the touchpaper for an outstanding Champions Cup performance from Leinster as they handed Wasps a record 52-3 European defeat at the RDS.
All Black Lima Sopoaga's 40th-minute sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on proved particularly costly for Wasps, as McGrath's subsequent score sent the defending champions off at half-time with a 14-3 lead, adding to an early seven-pointer from explosively-quick hooker Sean Cronin.
A stunning try from halfway by man-of-the-match Lowe was followed by McGrath to register the Irish province's bonus point, and as Wasps' challenge crumbled, Lowe, Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw and replacement Jack McGrath closed out an eight-try rout. Captain Jonathan Sexton kicked six conversions.
A sell-out crowd of 18,300 watched Leinster launch their title defence in their new all-navy European kit. Playing into a stiff breeze, the hosts hit the front when Cronin sprung clean through from a fifth-minute ruck outside the Wasps 22 and Willie le Roux's tap tackle could not stop him from scoring.
Sexton's conversion was cancelled out by a Sopoaga penalty, which saw him judge the wind nicely following a Jack Conan offside. Wasps' recovery from their rocky start continued with a Thomas Young turnover and an Elliot Daly break, their defence also tightening up through some energy-sapping phases.
As the pace and intensity increased, livewire winger Lowe just failed to find the supporting Sexton, and Sopoaga's looping pass went through the fingers of Josh Barrett with Leinster caught narrow for once.
The gap remained at four points thanks to a relieving penalty won by flanker Young, and the Coventry side's workload was typified by Tommy Taylor's 24 first-half tackles.
However, that defensive workload was unsustainable and Sopoaga's slap-down of a Cronin pass led to Leinster striking late with scrum-half McGrath sniping over from close range.
They were ruthless on the resumption as Henshaw's inside pass sent Lowe haring through and the Kiwi slickly sidestepped around Le Roux and fended off Daly to finish crisply by the posts.
Lowe provided the assist for McGrath's 51st-minute effort, with prop Tadhg Furlong expertly straightening the attack and popping an offload in the build-up.
James Ryan blasted through and then deftly offloaded to send Leinster powering through for try number five, Lowe putting his name to it after Sexton's instinctive pass through the legs.
Sean O'Brien and the rest of the province's international caps-laden bench made their presence felt in the final quarter as Larmour (72 minutes), Henshaw (74) and Jack McGrath (79) rattled off further tries, clinically taking advantage of the space afforded to them by tiring Wasps. The prop's closing score came from a rolling maul.