Defending champs Leinster wallop Wasps in Euro rout

Leinster v Wasps (Photo: Leinster Rugby - Twitter)
Leinster v Wasps (Photo: Leinster Rugby - Twitter)

Dublin - Defending champions Leinster began their campaign for a fifth European Cup title in sensational style on Friday with an eight-try, 52-3 rout of Wasps as the English side suffered a record defeat.

New Zealand winger James Lowe and scrumhalf Luke McGrath grabbed two tries apiece as the Irish giants cruised to a bonus-point win which could prove key in a Pool 1 which also includes fellow four-time champions Toulouse and Bath.

"It's a great platform to get five points at home in our first match," said Lowe. "We were ruthless and converted pressure into points."

Wasps coach Dai Young admitted his team has work to do.

"We have real issues with the ball. We cannot give Leinster all that possession, lose line-outs and keep giving them the ball back.

"The dam was going to burst at some stage."

Leinster took just six minutes to grab the first try of this season's competition.

Sean Cronin picked up and drove through three defenders, showing rare speed for a hooker as he claimed his 10th career try in the European Cup.

Skipper Johnny Sexton popped over the conversion for 7-0.

Wasps, the 2004 and 2007 champions, cut the deficit four minutes later when Leinster centre Robbie Henshaw was caught offside. New Zealand flyhalf Lima Sopoaga made no mistake with the penalty.

Leinster continued to dominate possession but saw an impressive 20-phase move end when prop Cian Healy knocked on.

Lowe then had the RDS Stadium crowd on their feet on the half hour mark when the Kiwi flyer burst from inside his own half with a mazy run which left Wasps flat-footed.

However, his impressive burst came to nothing when Sexton was unable to hold on to a tight, close-up pass.

The champions got the reward they deserved on the stroke of half-time.

Sopoaga was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on and the Irish took advantage when Luke McGrath darted over from close range with Sexton again deadly accurate with the boot as Leinster went in at the interval with a 14-3 advantage.

Leinster extended their lead in the opening minute of the second half when Lowe was freed by a smart reverse pass from Henshaw and the 26-year-old winger drove through the heart of the Wasps defence with Sexton adding the extras again for 21-3.

Their fourth try - and a bonus point - arrived in the 52nd minute.

A smart offload by prop Tadhg Furlong set Lowe sprinting down the left wing and the New Zealander's well-timed pass was eagerly gobbled up by McGrath who dived over for the score.

Sexton again was the picture of reliability with the conversion to stretch the lead to 28-3.

Lowe added his second try of the night - and his team's fifth - with fellow winger Jordan Larmour crossing for his first ever try in the tournament.

Replacement Ross Byrne hit the extras but the pain for Wasps wasn't over as Henshaw scored the seventh try for 47-3 with replacement forward Jack McGrath adding the eighth.

European Challenge Cup results on Friday, the opening weekend of the 2018/2019 tournament:

Friday

Pool 3

Perpignan (FRA) 24 Sale (ENG) 41

Saturday (SA times)

Timisoara (ROM) v Dragons (WAL) (13:30)

Northampton (ENG) v Clermont (FRA) (16:00)

Pool 2

Ospreys (WAL) v Pau (FRA) (16:00)

Stade Francais (FRA) v Worcester (ENG) (21:00)

Pool 3

Connacht (IRL) v Bordeaux-Begles (FRA) (16:00)

Pool 4

Enisei-STM (RUS) v La Rochelle (FRA) (10:00)

Bristol (ENG) v Zebre (ITA) (16:00)

Pool 5

Treviso (ITA) v Grenoble (FRA) (15:00)

Harlequins (ENG) v Agen (FRA) (16:00)

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