It might be only in October but this performance and scoreline at the RDS will be keenly noted by all. This was a performance which showed patience, defensive nous and explosive attacking lines. This was a performance of a champion at the top of their play. This performance belongs to Leinster Rugby.
You have to feel for the Wasps management and players on duty tonight. They valiantly went through the tackle count in the opening period despite playing with a strong breeze at their backs. Work rate was never an issue but the incessant waves of attack and minimal time with ball in hand was going to be punished and so it proved in the second half.
Wasps will have felt good about the fixture heading into the last ten minutes of the opening period. Leinster Rugby despite their complete domination of territory and possession were only 7-3 up, a trademark lung bursting score from Sean Cronin. However, this game was opened wide open by the key call of the contest.
Leinster Rugby yet again looking to create and the ball found its way to opening try scorer Cronin whose pass to James Lowe looked forward. Wasps fly-half Sopoaga attempted to intercept, missed and was sin binned. What about the forward pass? Wasps were down to fourteen players and the impact of the sin bin was two quick fire tries either side of half-time courtesy of Luke McGrath and James Lowe. The Wasps tackle count looked on the high side and the second half was a procession.
James Lowe in particular was magical tonight. He is playing at a superlative level. His game management, defensive work and kicking game were on point but it is his ability with ball in hand that gives opposition nightmares and allows his colleagues the time and space to create around him. His running line for Leinster Rugby’s third try was sensational and his ability to finish off the move was of top quality.
How does an opponent look to upset Leinster Rugby? Wasps approach to the breakdown yielded good results in the opening period (passive, picking their moments to compete) but then Leinster Rugby made the adjustments and negated Tom Young from this facet of play. Quicker ruck ball ensued with devastating results.
What was most eye catching? The sight of Sexton passing between his legs to a colleague or Tadhg Furlong executing a perfect running line and pass to James Lowe. The skill set of this Leinster Rugby is remarkable. All players so comfortable with ball in hand; the players have no issue passing the ball from a ruck.
The fact that Wasps did not make one single line break tonight was emphatic. The hosts continued to be unrelenting as the bench looked sharp in particular O’Brien who had an excellent breakdown steal. When you decide to only put on Scott Fardy with fifteen minutes left, enough said. This side is stacked.
Wasps will be disappointed in the final quarter; their attacking threat was non-existent and their defensive shape and maul defense disintegrated before our eyes. Eight tries in total with back and pack players getting in on the act.
A forty-nine point thumping, does nothing for the scoring differential but Wasps can rest assured that Toulouse and Bath Rugby will also endure miserable trips to Dublin this season. Leinster Rugby are evolving to an even greater juggernaut. Europe beware!