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PREVIEW: Mullan eyes historic win

Wednesday 21st January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Le premier match européen disputé dans la flambant neuve Ricoh Arena opposera ses nouveaux locataires

Le premier match européen disputé dans la flambant neuve Ricoh Arena opposera ses nouveaux locataires

Matt Mullan admits he had no idea Wasps were in line to create history this weekend, but hopes they can claim a landmark success in their first European Champions Cup clash at their new Coventry home.

No side has ever reached the quarter-final stage of the continent’s top-tier competition having lost their opening two pool games. But Wasps, and fellow English side Bath, can achieve the feat this weekend.

If Wasps can beat three-time winners Leinster at the Ricoh Arena they will top Pool 2 and secure a spot in the last eight. England prop Mullan knows it will be no easy task, but is hopeful of completing a remarkable turnaround.

He said: “I have to be honest I was not aware of the history of no side having qualified after losing their first two games. The first I knew of it was when someone mentioned it on Twitter.

“We always felt we were still in with a shot despite losing those first two games. We managed to pick up losing bonus points and we felt it at least gave us a way back into the pool.

“We did the job we had to do by picking up 10 points against Castres before Christmas and in going to Quins and winning last weekend. It is now up to us to finish the job.”

But Mullan is more than aware of the quality Leinster possess. He said: “They have had injuries this season but there is no doubting their pedigree in Europe.

“They have quality players throughout their side and it was a really tough game when we played them out there right at the start of the pool stage.

“But we are at home and we are looking forward to having a big crowd cheering us on. The fans have been superb since we made the move to Coventry and hopefully they will get behind us in numbers once again and make it an intimidating atmosphere.”

A Leinster win would see the Irish province top the pool, while they could potentially go through as one of the best runners-up even if they lose.

Match Facts

  • The home side has triumphed in all four meetings between the two clubs. 
  • However, Leinster defeated Wasps 48-28 at Adams Park in the 2013 Challenge Cup quarter-final on their way to lifting the trophy. 
  • Wasps have a perfect record of six home wins against Irish opposition in Europe's top flight. 
  • Wasps' captain, James Haskell, made 28 tackles in the Round 5 win against Harlequins – the most any player has made in a Champions Cup game this season. 
  • Leinster's Rob Kearney made 153 metres in Round 5, more than any other player in last weekend's fixtures. 
  • Leinster have made more passes any other club in the competition averaging 157 per game to date. 
  • Leinster have also have forced their opponents into making more tackles than any other club this season, forcing 154 (tackles + misses) per game. Wasps have made the most tackles in the tournament so far averaging 147 in their five matches. 
  • The Irish province has been on target with more penalties (19) than any other side; Ian Madigan has kicked all 19 and is the top points scorer in the tournament (73). 
  • Wasps have five players in their ranks who have made 50+ tackles in the tournament – Bradley Davies, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes, Ashley Johnson and Matt Mullan. Wasps have scored more first half tries (11) than any other club to date.

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REPORT: Leinster through in thriller

Saturday 24th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Le triple champion d'Europe peut toujours viser un quatrième sacre. Le Leinster

Le triple champion d'Europe peut toujours viser un quatrième sacre. Le Leinster

Leinster survived a remarkable comeback from Wasps in the battle of the former champions at the Ricoh Arena to qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup as Pool 2 winners.

The Irish province looked on their way to a comfortable win when they went in with a 20-6 lead at half-time but the English side staged a formidable rally in the second half and saw fly-half Andy Goode miss a drop goal attempt with the last kick of the game.

Leinster now have to wait to see if they get a home draw in the knockout stages, while Wasps, who finish level on points with Harlequins in the Pool, will have to wait and see if they qualify as one of the best runners up.

But Wasps indiscipline ultimately cost them in a one-sided first half when they had to play for 20 minutes with 14 men with flanker Ashley Johnson and prop Lorenzo Cittadini both yellow carded.

The Dubliners will be wondering how they surrendered such a strong position and two sides and will be happy they that came away with a defeat.

The home side lost flanker Johnson to a yellow card when he was sent to the bin for taking out Leinster wing Dave Kearney in the air straight from the kick-off.

The visitors took full advantage of their one-man advantage with their first real attack of the game when wing Fergus McFadden crossed in the corner to give the Irish side the lead.

Centre Ian Madigan slotted over the conversion before fly-half Andy Goode steadied the ship for Wasps with a penalty to make it 7-3. 

Despite the return of big flanker Johnson to the field from the sidelines, Wasps were under the cosh for most of the first period and struggled to escape Leinster’s stranglehold on territory and possession.

Madigan, who missed his first two penalties of the game, landed a penalty midway through the first half to give the Dubliners a seven point lead before Wasps’ indiscipline reared its head again.

Italian prop Cittadini became the second Wasps player to be shown a yellow card when he was penalised at the tackle and Leinster fly-half Jimmy Gopperth slotted over the penalty.

Goode replied with a second penalty for 14-men Wasps before Leinster scored their second try with replacement scrum-half Isaac Boss getting the touchdown from short-range to make it 20-6 to the Irish province.

Leinster then incurred the wrath of French referee Jerome Garces when he brandished a third yellow card to lock Kane Douglas for a late tackle on Johnson just before half-time.

Wasps looked to have take advantage of their extra-man when wing Tom Varndell crossed for a try in the corner but the score was ruled out for obstruction by referee Garces.

But the home side were not to be denied when prop Matt Mullan burrowed over from short-range from a lineout to close the gap to seven points before number eight Nathan Hughes did the same minutes later to level the scores and to set up a thrilling finale.  

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