European Rugby Round-Up: Ulster and Connacht dominant while Leinster limp out
Leinster embarrased while Ulster and Connacht recorded big wins.19:00 Saturday 23 January 2016, 19:00 23 Jan 2016
Wasps 51-10 Leinster
Leinster were well and truly in this game at the halfway point after Eoin Reddan and Zane Kirchner tries, but a devastating second half display and the loss of Johnny Sexton to a concussion saw the Irish province crumble in the second 40.
Wasps scored 36 unanswered points to romp their way into the next round as group winners while Leinster's European campaign ends on the sourest of notes.
Joe Launchbury and Jimmy Gopperth both scored first half tries for Wasps, with the ex-Leinster flyhalf adding a conversion and a penalty to give the London side a 15-10 half time lead, despite the fact they were reduced to 14 men for the latter part of the half when Lorenzo Cittadini was binned for cynical play.
Returned to the full compliment, Wasps cut loose in the second half with Gopperth adding another three pointer before Elliot Daly showed his searing pace to leave Leinster's cover defence for dead on his way to the line.
The bonus point soon followed when Rhys Ruddock illegaly dragged down a rampant Wasps rolling maul and referee Mathieu Raynal awarded a penalty try.
The Pool standings were reflected on the pitch as the quarter-final chasing Wasps dominated every facet of play while Leinster looked rudderless in attack and helpless in defence without Sexton marshalling his troops.
Wasps dotted down three more times before the 80 minute mark with Frank Halai, Charles Piutau and Ashley Johnson compounding the misery for Leinster's travelling support.
Ulster 56-3 Oyonnax
Ulster face a nervous wait to see if they qualify for the next round of European action after producing an awesome display at Kingspan Stadium.
The Northern province produced a classy display on their way to victory, running in eight tries against the French minnows.
Nick Williams was awarded the Man of the Match for a rambunctious display at the back of the scrum, but it was the performances of some of the backline players that had Ulster & Irish fans salivating.
In particular, Jared Payne and Luke Marshall were sublime in showcasing their impressive range of skills while Paddy Jackson controlled the game from the stand off position.
Oyonnax offered little in resistance and Ulster were cruising inside the opening minute when Rob Herring got the first.
Payne was the architect of the next two tries when he scythed through the Oyonnax defensive line to put Darren Cave over before he set up Rory Scholes' try.
The fourth came just before the break when Sean Reidy burst over the line from close range after being fed by a Paul Marshall offload.
Ulster produced some exhibitionist rugby in the second half with Craig Gilroy, Robbie Diack, Ian Humphreys and Payne crossing for another four before the hour mark.
That was to be the last of the scoring as Ulster took the foot of the gas and rang the changes, including a late cameo for newly installed Irish captain Rory Best, who received a rapturous reception upon his introduction.
Ulster have done all they can to reach the knock-out stages, but they now must wait on other results to see if they will be the sole Irish province in the next phase of the European Champions Cup.
Connacht 47-5 Enisei-STM
Connacht made light work of their Russian counterparts on their way to qualifying for the next stage of the European Challenge Cup at the Sportsground.
Prior to kick-off the Westerners fate didn't lie in their own hands but they gave themselves the best possible chance by securing a try bonus point before the interval, with tries from Tiernan O'Halloran, Matt Healy, Denis Buckley and Danie Poolman adding to AJ McGinty's early penalty to give Connacht a 25-0 lead at the break.
The scoring didn't stop there as the returning Robbie Henshaw grounded in the 41st minute before Enisei finally got themselves on the board through Vitalii Orlov in the 47th minute.
Normal service was then resumed as Tom McCartney crossed for number six before Healy grabbed his second and Connacht's eighth.
Substitute scrum half Caolin Blade then wrapped up the win at the death and a result that looked good enough for Connacht to progress but they had a nervous wait thanks to a thrilling game in Newcastle.
Despite the result in Galway ending the Falcon's journey, they took a 22-3 lead against Brive before the French side launched an impressive comeback to wrestle themselves into the lead entering the final 10 minutes.
However, much to the delight of Newcastle and Connacht fans Simon Hammersley crossed late on to give the Falcons a 27-23 victory.
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