4th April 2013 15:50
Leinster face the fresh challenge of a new competition as they travel to High Wycombe to make their Amlin Challenge Cup debut, taking on fellow former Heineken Cup winners Wasps in a spicy quarter-final tie.
LONDON WASPS v LEINSTER, Adams Park, 8pm (live Sky Sports 2/HD2/RTÉ 2fm/highlights TG4)
Team News: The Leinster team to face London Wasps in Friday night’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final at Adams Park has been named.
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David Kearney will make his 50th Leinster appearance having been named in a back-line which features Gordon D’Arcy who has recovered from illness to take his place in the starting line-up.
Wexford man D’Arcy is joined by fellow ex-Clongowes Wood College student Fergus McFadden who has recovered from injury to take his place in the centre, with in-form out-half Ian Madigan set to make his 75th appearance for the province.
Rob Kearney starts at full-back with Isa Nacewa named on the left wing for Leinster’s inaugural Challenge Cup encounter which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 2.
Up front, Devin Toner partners skipper Leo Cullen in the second row with Kevin McLaughlin set to make his 90th appearance for the province. The returning Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip complete the back row.
Ireland duo Sean Cronin and Shane Jennings head up the replacements available to head coach Joe Schmidt.
Meanwhile, London Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has named his side to take on Leinster in the last-eight of the second tier competition.
Nick Robinson replaces fellow Welshman Stephen Jones at out-half in the only change to the back-line that started last weekend’s 22-13 Aviva Premiership loss to Saracens.
Rhys Thomas returns at hooker with Marco Wentzel captaining the Londoners from the second row where he packs down alongside England international Tom Palmer.
Joe Launchbury shifts to blindside flanker with Ashley Johnson reverting to the number 8 position, with Billy Vunipola dropping down to the replacements bench.
“There’s been a great buzz around the club this week and everyone’s looking forward to testing ourselves against one of the best sides in European rugby,” said Young.
“Leinster have been incredibly consistent over the last few years and this is a big challenge for our developing side but one everyone is up for.”
LONDON WASPS: Elliot Daly; Christian Wade, Andrea Masi, Chris Bell, Tom Varndell; Nick Robinson, Joe Simpson; Zak Taulafo, Rhys Thomas, Phil Swainston, Tom Palmer, Marco Wentzel (capt), Joe Launchbury, Sam Jones, Ashley Johnson.
Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Tim Payne, Will Taylor, Jonathan Poff, Billy Vunipola, Charlie Davies, Stephen Jones, Hugo Southwell.
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; David Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa; Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Jamie Hagan, Quinn Roux, Shane Jennings, John Cooney, Andrew Goodman, Andrew Conway.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy (Wales), Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy)
Television Match Official: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): London Wasps to win: 7/4; Draw: 22/1; Leinster to win: 1/2
Pre-Match Quotes: Leo Cullen (Leinster) – “If you look at the quality of teams left in the Amlin, it’s pretty staggering. When they put out the stats of the number of winners of the main competition left it’s kind of bizarre in a way.
“I suppose the disappointing thing about our last two pool games is probably that we did a lot of work in the first 50 minutes and almost ran out of steam in both.
“I think we scored one try in the last 60 minutes of both games. Looking back that’s probably the biggest regret.
“But there’s no point dwelling on it. Wasps are a well-balanced team and I know Dai Young likes having strong ball carriers – and they have strong ball carriers across the park in Ashley Johnson, Billy Vunipola and Andrea Masi.
“They also have speed on the wings. I obviously know Tom Varndell from Leicester and he’s a freakish talent. He’s probably a little bit inconsistent, but when he fires on his day it’s ridiculous how fast he is.”
Dai Young (London Wasps) – “It will be a huge occasion in front of probably our biggest crowd this season. You’ve got two clubs out there with massive history in Europe, so it’s very exciting for everyone involved.
“Our fans have had a few lean years in terms of hosting those big European nights, and I think everyone is really looking forward to it, on and off the field.
“Leinster were in a very tough Heineken Cup pool and they suffered with injuries to key players at times. Even though they have a few missing on Friday, they are still a formidable side.
“You don’t achieve what they have without having a very well-rounded team. They are a very innovative side and they create plenty of chances, so it doesn’t get any tougher, really.
“We’ve got to go back to basics and just play in the right areas like we had been doing well earlier in the season, and not find ourselves defending for most of the game and then getting tired and conceding penalties. In saying that, we are also confident that we have enough quality to win the game.”
Current Form – London Wasps – (Aviva Premiership): Lost 42-40 at home to Harlequins; Lost 30-23 away to Bath; Won 43-14 at home to London Irish; Lost 29-22 away to Gloucester; Lost 24-6 away to Northampton Saints; Won 10-6 at home to Worcester Warriors; (Amlin Challenge Cup): Won 38-25 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 59-12 away to Rugby Mogliano; (Aviva Premiership): Won 29-19 at home to London Welsh; Lost 29-24 away to Saracens; (LV= Cup): Lost 22-17 away to the Cardiff Blues; Won 28-19 at home to Worcester Warriors; (Aviva Premiership): Won 14-12 at home to Leicester Tigers; Lost 30-23 away to Exeter Chiefs; (Amlin Challenge Cup): Drew 13-13 away to Bayonne; Won 30-16 at home to Bayonne; (Aviva Premiership): Won 25-18 at home to Sale Sharks; Won 34-15 away to London Welsh; Won 29-15 at home to Bath; (Amlin Challenge Cup): Won 71-7 at home to Rugby Mogliano; Won 20-19 away to the Newport Gwent Dragons; (LV= Cup): Lost 34-8 away to Leicester Tigers; Lost 33-30 at home to Sale Sharks; (Aviva Premiership): Won 17-16 away to Harlequins; Won 33-29 at home to Gloucester; Lost 30-19 away to London Irish; Lost 29-23 away to Worcester Warriors; Lost 26-24 at home to Northampton Saints; Lost 22-13 at home to Saracens
Leinster – (RaboDirect PRO12): Lost 45-20 away to the Scarlets; Won 45-25 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 19-18 away to Benetton Treviso; Won 22-16 at home to Edinburgh; Lost 34-6 away to Connacht; Won 30-21 at home to Munster; (Heineken Cup): Won 9-6 at home to Exeter Chiefs; Won 20-13 away to the Scarlets; (RaboDirect PRO12): Won 59-22 at home to the Cardiff Blues; Lost 19-10 away to the Ospreys; Won 6-0 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 37-7 at home to Zebre; (Heineken Cup): Lost 15-12 away to Clermont Auvergne; Lost 28-21 at home to Clermont Auvergne; (RaboDirect PRO12): Lost 27-19 away to Ulster; Won 17-0 at home to Connacht; Won 31-16 away to Edinburgh; (Heineken Cup): Won 33-14 at home to the Scarlets; Won 29-20 away to Exeter Chiefs; (RaboDirect PRO12); Won 26-11 away to the Cardiff Blues; Won 40-5 at home to Benetton Treviso; Won 32-5 at home to the Scarlets; Won 26-19 away to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 22-17 at home to Glasgow Warriors; Lost 22-18 at home to Ulster
Top Scorers – 2012/13 Amlin Challenge Cup/Heineken Cup: London Wasps – Points: Nick Robinson 57; Tries: Andrea Masi, Christian Wade, Tom Varndell 3 each; Leinster – Points: Jonathan Sexton 62; Tries: Shane Jennings, Rob Kearney 2 each
Previous Heineken Cup Meetings: 3
Saturday, January 17, 2009 – Pool 2 – London Wasps 19 Leinster 12, Twickenham
Saturday, October 18, 2008 – Pool 2 – Leinster 41 London Wasps 11, the RDS
Saturday, March 31, 2007 – Quarter-final – London Wasps 35 Leinster 13, Adams Park
Match Facts And Figures –
– Wasps have never faced Irish opposition in this tournament, although in the Heineken Cup they have won nine of 13 meetings with Irish sides, including two of three against Leinster
– Leinster have never featured in the Amlin Challenge Cup before but have faced English opposition on 38 occasions in the Heineken Cup. They have won 26, drawn one and lost 11
– Only two other players have made more tackles than Wasps back rower James Haskell in this season’s Amlin Challenge Cup. Haskell has completed 63 and missed only four
– Wasps winger Tom Varndell has the best average gain (13.8 metres) of all players in the Amlin Challenge Cup this season (15-plus carries)
– Leinster’s ball retention at rucks and mauls was the best of any team in the Heineken Cup pool stages. They won 97% of rucks when in possession and also averaged 89 won per game, more than any other side
Amlin Challenge Cup Records:
London Wasps –
2011/12: Reached the quarter-finals
2010/11: Reached the quarter-finals
2009/10: Reached the semi-finals