Leinster set-up Champions Cup quarter-final with Ulster; Munster will travel to Edinburgh

Leinster set-up Champions Cup quarter-final with Ulster; Munster will travel to Edinburgh
Wasps’ Dan Robson with Jamison Gibson-Park of Leinster. Pic: INPHO/Gary Carr

Wasps 19 Leinster 37

Leinster have brought the curtain down on the Heineken Champions Cup pool stages with the easiest of victories away to Wasps on Sunday afternoon that confirms for them an all-Irish home quarter-final against Ulster at the end of March.

Munster, with the lowest points total of the five pool winners, will travel to Edinburgh in the last eight and the PRO14 will, in total, bring five sides to the continental table come the last eight: the three provinces, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors.

France provide two contenders in Racing 92 and Toulouse, who will face each other. Saracens alone will represent England, hosting Glasgow in their quarter-final.

  • Saracens (1st seed) v Glasgow Warriors (8th), Allianz Park
  • Racing 92 (2nd) v Toulouse (7th), Paris La Défense Arena
  • Leinster Rugby (3rd) v Ulster Rugby (6th), Aviva Stadium
  • Edinburgh Rugby (4th) v Munster Rugby (5th), BT Murrayfield

Leinster rounded their pool campaign off on a cold and dreary day in Coventry with a routine win against a Wasps side that had long ago lost its way in Europe and for whom this was tantamount to no more than an irritating box to kick.

The visitors suffered a minor blip beforehand when Jack Conan was ruled out with a shoulder injury but that, at least, offered Sean O'Brien the chance to start a match that would mark his first appearance since breaking an arm playing for Ireland against Argentina last November.

Another subplot was the presence of Robbie Henshaw in midfield for his return from a hamstring injury that had threatened his Six Nations involvement. Both were heavily involved as Leinster turned the screw in the first period.

Dai Young's side offered next to nothing for long, long spells.

It was into the 21st-minute of a long and mundane first-half before the English side managed an attack and a route into the Leinster 22. It came to nothing, as did all their half-hearted efforts in a first-half that left them 20-0 down at the break.

Leinster did as they pleased, playing solid and mostly safe but well-executed rugby that amounted to little other than a physical training session in front of a half-empty Ricoh Arena. Tries from Garry Ringrose and Sean Cronin were claimed with a by-the-numbers simplicity.

Credit to Wasps who offered some more steel and bite on the restart and managed to finally manufacture the sort of pressure in the Leinster 22 that eventually led to big Nathan Hughes barrelling over O'Brien and the line for a converted try after 53 minutes.

O'Brien departed a few minutes later, a well-needed hour or so under his belt, and Leinster extinguished any outlandish hint of a comeback shortly after with another try from Cronin, and it came again from a lineout and maul.

So, so easy.

The last 20 minutes were academic – you could argue the first 60 had been too - with Leinster guaranteed of their place as third-highest qualifier regardless of whether they managed a fourth try and the bonus match point that would accompany it.

They did, as it happens, Noel Reid doing the honours with ten minutes to go not long after after the entire Leinster defensive line had been caught napping by Dan Robson when the Wasps scrum-half scuttled over for five points from the base of a ruck.

Marcus Watson had the last major say of the afternoon with a smart finish down Leinster's right wing with a handful of minutes to go. Face saved on the part of the locals in front of a 16,002 crowd. Job done for Leinster.

Wasps: R Miller; J Bassett, M Campagnaro, G Lovobalavu, E Daly; L Sopoaga, D Robson; Z Zhvania, T Cruse, J Cooper-Woolley; J Launchbury, W Rowlands; B Morris, N Carr, N Hughes. Replacements: C Matthews for Launchbury (HIA, 10); B Harris for Zhvania (56); W Stuart for Cooper-Woolley (58); A Johnson for Hughes (60); B Searle for Sopoaga and M Watson for Miller (both 65); C Hampson for Robson (71); J Gaskell for Rowlands (72).

Leinster: J Larmour; A Byrne, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, D Kearney; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, J Ryan; R Ruddock, J van der Flier, S O'Brien. Replacements: C Healy for McGrath (45); A Porter for Furlong and S Fardy for Toner (both 54); M Deegan for O'Brien (56);

R O'Loughlin for Henshaw (62); N Reid for R Byrne (HIA, 66); J Tracy for Cronin (66); H O'Sullivan for Gibson-Park (74).

Referee: M Adamson (Scotland).

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