Wasps hand Leinster a bonus
Wasps triumphed 19-12 in a topsy-turvy clash at Twickenham to move level with Leinster in the battle to win Pool Two.
Last Updated: 17/01/09 10:09pm
Wasps moved level with Leinster at the top of Pool Two after triumphing 19-12 in a topsy-turvy Heineken Cup clash at Twickenham.
Serge Betsen grabbed the only try of the game in the first half which was converted by Danny Cipriani, who also slotted over four penalties.
However, the visitors picked up a crucial bonus point thanks to Felipe Contepomi's 12-point haul, meaning they remain in pole position.
While Wasps face a tricky trip to Castres in the final round of matches Leinster will be looking to claim maximum spoils when they host Edinburgh.
The situation could have been different had the hosts not decided to go for three when they were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes.
Substitute Dave Walder knocked over the easy kick but a try at that stage would have meant Leinster would have missed out on a losing point that could turn out to be crucial in the final reckoning.
The late, late moment of drama capped a gripping game that had started out with Wasps racing into a 10-0 lead in the opening exchanges.
Cipriani slotted over two penalties before Josh Lewsey rolled back the years on his old England stomping ground with a thrilling break from deep that led to Betsen picking up a loose ball to surely grab the easiest try of his long career.
At that stage it appeared Leinster were in serious trouble, their plight not helped by the loss of Leo Cullen and props CJ Van Der Linde. Another front-rower, Stan Wright, failed to reach the break, meaning uncontested scrums.
In between the raft of replacements Contepomi kicked his first points after 20 minutes, only for Cipriani to answer straight back with a penalty.
Despite a 10-point deficit, and losing Rob Kearney to a harsh yellow card for holding onto the ball after being tackled into touch, Leinster refused to go away.
Betsen turned from hero to villain when he was sin-binned for tripping Contepomi, who picked himself up to kick the penalty.
A third yellow card followed soon after to even out the numbers, though Malcolm O'Kelly could think himself fortunate to see yellow and not red when he was caught stamping on the head of Phil Vickery.
Contepomi closed the gap down to four points with a penalty kick that ended an action-packed opening 40 minutes. The second half did not follow suit, though, both sides playing the percentages rather than taking any risks.
Cipriani's penalty on the hour mark made it 16-9 but Leinster continued to chip away, boosted by the return to action of Brian O'Driscoll despite a nasty looking injury above his left eye.
Contepomi knocked over a simple shot at the posts just two minutes later, though he would miss another attempt that would have made it 16-15 and when Wasps stepped up the pressure in the closing stages, it appeared the away side may end up with nothing to show for their efforts.
Lewsey went close to scoring with another inspirational run and when a penalty was given for holding on in the tackle, over 30,000 pairs of eyes became fixed on captain Vickery to see what he would choose to do.
Rather than go for broke and kick for the corner, the decision was made to take the easy three, Walder's kick making sure Wasps won the race but leaving Leinster on course for victory in the marathon.