Wasps rue Le Roux error in Leinster loss
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: South Africa back Willie Le Roux made an extraordinary and costly error as Leinster beat Wasps 32-17 in the quarterfinals of the European Champions Cup at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Two-time European champions Wasps had the ideal chance to establish a foothold when, after fine work by Australia's Kurtley Beale, Le Roux was sent clear with the line at his mercy.
But with no Leinster defender near him, the Springbok opted for a needless dive over the line only to lose control of the ball, with his score disallowed.
It proved a costly error for the English Premiership leaders who saw Irish province Leinster, table-toppers in the Pro12, score three first-half tries through Isa Nacewa, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw.
But two Wasps tries in seven second-half minutes brought the visitors back into contention as the game reached the hour mark.
It wasn't enough, however, for Dai Young's men, with three-time European champions Leinster now through to an away semifinal against the winners of Sunday's all-French clash between Clermont and Toulon.
Ireland's Munster face France's Toulouse in Saturday's second quarterfinal, with reigning European champions Saracens up against Glasgow in London on Sunday.
Leinster started with an inexperienced backline, while Wasps fielded an international class back three of Beale, Christian Wade and Le Roux.
But that did not stop Leinster racing into an early lead, with 21-year-old fullback Joey Carbery central to everything they did well.
Leinster and Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton opened the scoring with an early penalty before, the 15th minute saw Nacewa score his seventh try of the competition after Carbery's skip pass gave the 34-year-old an easy run home.
In what had been billed as an 'audition' for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, there were shades of Ireland's Six Nations win over England at the same venue two weeks ago, with the home side dominating possession and breaking through Wasps' defence with ease.
When Beale found a way to get behind Leinster, Le Roux was left red-faced when replays showed he'd dropped the ball.
A Gopperth penalty finally got Wasps on the scoreboard, punishing Tadhg Furlong's off the ball tackle on frustrated Wasps playmaker Danny Cipriani.
But two minutes later, Jack Conan got Leinster's second try, with Carbery once more the creator.
His give and go with Fergus McFadden, created space out wide and the pacy flank was perfectly placed to gather and run home.
Sexton converted, but Leinster were not done yet and scored a third try just on the half time whistle.
Wasps lost possession from their own maul, and a clever flick from the grounded Dan Leavy set up a ruthless counter attack, with Sean O'Brien and Sexton involved before the No.10 set up Henshaw for an easy run under the posts.
Sexton kicked the first points of the second half, pushing Leinster 22 clear, but Wade gave the Wasps fans in the 50 266 crowd something to cheer, with a stunning try – chipping into space behind the Leinster line, and outpacing O'Brien and Luke McGrath to touch down.
Gopperth's conversion cut the lead to 15 points and the former Leinster man was far from finished.
Out of nothing, the Kiwi scored Wasps' second try on the hour mark, cutting through the Leinster midfield and shrugging off three tacklers to dive home.
The 33-year-old converted, and with ten minutes remaining there were just eight points between the sides.
Leinster, however, held their nerve and McFadden's close-range try five minutes from time secured victory.
Man of the match: Joey Carbery hardly put a foot wrong and was central to everything Leinster did well.
Tries: Nacewa, Conan, Henshaw, McFadden
Cons: Sexton 3
Pens: Sexton 2
Tries: Wade, Gopperth
Cons: Gopperth 2
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (captain), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Dan Leavy, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Fergus McFadden, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Alex Rieder, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Josh Bassett.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)