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Leinster out to defend their crown in Heineken Champions Cup curtain raiser

Wednesday 10th October 2018

11:39 am (GMT)

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Leinster Rugby after winning last season's Champions Cup final

Defending champions Leinster Rugby will look to kick-start their Heineken Champions Cup campaign on Friday night when they host Wasps at The RDS Arena, live on BT Sport at 19:45 BST.

Match facts

  • Reigning champions Leinster won all nine games on their way to lifting the Champions Cup trophy last season and one more victory would equal their longest winning streak in the competition which they set across the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons.
  • This will be the fourth time in their last five European Cup campaigns that Wasps have begun with an away game in Ireland (W1, L2).
  •  Leinster have won each of their last six games against Gallagher Premiership opposition, this after having won just four of their preceding 10 such games (D1, L5).
  •  Last season Leinster were the only side to concede an average of less than 10 turnovers per game in the competition (9.7).
  • Despite beating fewer defenders per game (14.5) than any other side, only Saracens (3.6) averaged more tries than Wasps (3.5) in 2017/18.
  •  Christian Wade had an average gain of 8.8 metres per carry in the pool stage of last season’s tournament, the best rate of any of the 66 players to make as many carries as him (45).
  • Leinster’s Luke McGrath provided six try assists last season, the most of any player in the competition.
  •  Leinster’s James Ryan completed 74 of 74 tackles last season, no player attempted more without missing at least one.

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Wasps head coach Dai Young said:

  • We’re going to the home of the champions and we’re going there to try and win. But we have to play to our potential because if we don’t we won’t be near. You can’t limp over the line against Leinster.
  • We’ve got to try and come out of every European game with something because if you have two bad results, you’re going to struggle to get through the pool stages.
  • Dan Robson (ankle) is to have a scan today and will see a specialist on Wednesday. He certainly won’t be fit for the weekend.
  • Joe Launchbury (knee) will run tomorrow and if he comes through that okay he will hopefully be fit for Friday. He had an injection in his knee to settle it down.
  • Brad Shields (cheekbone) should be available for the weekend. He is up to speed with everything and has been training.

Leinster Rugby backs coach Felipe Contepomi also issued this injury update:

  • Jamison Gibson-Park rolled his ankle in the second half of the win over Munster at Aviva Stadium on Saturday. He will be further assessed this week ahead of the game against Wasps on Friday.
  • Jordan Larmour is due to return to training this week after recovering from a hip injury.
  • Jack McGrath made his return from injury to start against Munster and came through the match with no ill effects.
  • Ian Nagle has completed the Graduated Return to Play Protocols and will return to training, while Tom Daly will return to full training this week.

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Leinster kick off title defence with bonus point victory over Wasps

Friday 12th October 2018

10:01 pm (GMT)

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Leinster Rugby opened up their Heineken Champions Cup defence with a comprehensive 52-3 bonus point win over Wasps at the RDS Arena. 

The home side applied plenty of early pressure and were rewarded when hooker Sean Cronin found a hole in the Wasps defence and powered his way over the try line for the opening score in this season’s competition.  

Lima Sopoaga replied with a simple penalty kick and the visitors held out until the stroke of half time when the ball was thrown wide to James Lowe who got within a metre of the try line before Luke McGrath was able to dive over. 

Lowe – who was awarded Heineken Man of the Match by BT Sport’s Brian O’Driscoll – had already gone close on several occasions before bagging one of his own just after the interval. 

The New Zealander cut through the Wasps line on the halfway line before sprinting clear and powering his way over the try line for a stunning score. 

Minutes later, Tadhg Furlong showed stunning ball skills to find Lowe who darted down the left touchline before finding McGrath for his second try of the evening. 

The Irish province then scored a stupendous team try after James Ryan powered past the Wasps line before finding Johnny Sexton who played an outrageous pass through his legs, with the ball eventually working wide to Lowe who dotted down for his second try of the evening. 

Further tries from Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw and Jack McGrath put gloss on a stunning Leinster performance as they dished out a record tournament defeat on Wasps. 

The English side will host Bath Rugby at the Ricoh Arena in Round 2 while Leinster Rugby will travel to face Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon. 

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