Wasps back European Champions Cup contention following victory over La Rochelle

Wasps avenged last week's defeat in France and kept alive their Champions Cup quarter- final qualification hopes with a well-deserved win over the Top 14 leaders.

21 - 3
Wasps Stade Rochelais

Sun 17th December 2017
1:00 pm

Ricoh Arena Stadium European Rugby Champions Cup As it happened
Two tries from Elliot Daly plus Tom Cruse's second-half driving line out score and a stout defensive effort, saw Wasps to a 21-3 win over Top 14 leaders La Rochelle. 

As a result, they remain third in pool one, five points behind La Rochelle and two behind Ulster, and know that victories in the final two pool games will guarantee at least second place.

Wasps made an unpromising start when visiting scrum half Alex Bales broke threateningly round the blind side, but his chip ahead was comfortably touched down by Elliot Daly.

With five minutes gone, Wasps came close to an opening score after a move down the right sent Dan Robson racing into the 22. When he was stopped by the cover defence, the ball move back out to the left, where Christian Wade was double-tackled into touch at the corner.

Two minutes later, Wasps were forced into an injury replacement when Jimmy Gopperth limped off to make way for Kyle Eastmond. Immediately after the change, Wade intercepted a pass on halfway and made 15 metres before the ball was spun out to the left, where Nathan Hughes smashed through a tackle. He had Robson outside him, but the scrum-half was unable to hang on to the pass a few metres from the line.

Constant Wasps pressure finally told in the 12th minute, when Elliot Daly powered through a tackle to go over in the left corner after a series of pick-and-goes had gone close in midfield. Daly converted with an immaculate touchline kick, although he was then narrowly off target with a long-range penalty following a deliberate knock-on.

The home side continued to press, and following a lineout on the left Daly joined the line to create an overlap on the right and Wade was stopped just short.

Unlike last weekend, La Rochelle were finding it hard to bring their big ball carriers into the game at pace, as solid home defence prevented them from breaking the gain line.

However, the Top 14 leaders did spent the last few minutes of the half camped in Wasps territory, without finding a way through. 

This left the hosts with a seven-point interval advantage, which they came agonisingly close to extending with a second try when James Gaskell charged down No.9 Alexi Bales’ clearance soon after the restart.

But as the ball bounced towards the line, Gaskell tried to flyhack it over, but the visiting scrum-half recovered and beat him to the touchdown.

The all-important second score came in the 47th minute, following a Wasps scrum just inside the visitors’ half. After Robson combined with Wade down the blind side, play came back across the field and Willie Le Roux joined the line at pace to send Daly over for his second try in the left corner, which he again upgraded with another superb kick.

The arrival of La Rochelle's powerful bench then triggered a good spell, and they showed their forward power with a rumbling maul which took them close to the line before Le Roux got aerial to claim a superb mark in front of the posts to end the threat.

Unfortunately, Daly also went for the ball but collided with the post, and after several minutes of treatment had to be replaced by Gaby Lovobalavu.

 The powerful Rene Ranger then made a dangerous burst towards the left corner, and when play came back infield, Wasps were penalised in front of the posts and replacement Brock James got the visitors on the board with a simple kick.

 As the French side continued to press, replacement hooker Pierre Bourgarit's bulldozing charge down the right took him deep into the home 22, where Le Roux’s last-ditch tackle stopped a certain score.

 A powerful blindside charge by recently-arrived replacement Nizaam Carr lifted the siege, and he crossed halfway, before finding Robson in support.

The away defence scrambled back, but at the cost of a penalty, which Wasps sent to the corner, after which a lineout drive took Tom Cruse over for the match-clinching third try.

Danny Cipriani converted superbly from the right touchline, which left the hosts seven minutes to secure a bonus point.

They came close when Joe Simpson, who had just replaced Heineken MOM Robson, raced half the length of the field, but the final pass went to ground.

They had one final chance, two minutes from time with a driving lineout in the left corner, but it was stopped just short.

Wasps Line ups

  1. Simon McIntyre
  2. Ashley Johnson
  3. Martin Moore
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. James Gaskell
  6. James Haskell
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Elliot Daly
  12. Jimmy Gopperth
  13. Juan de Jongh
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Willie Le Roux
  16. Tom Cruse
  17. Ben Harris
  18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  19. Kearnan Myall
  20. Nizaam Carr
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Kyle Eastmond
  23. Gabiriele Lovobalavu

Stade Rochelais Line ups

  1. Dany Priso
  2. Hikairo Forbes
  3. Uini Atonio
  4. Romain Sazy
  5. Thomas Jolmes
  6. Zeno Kieft
  7. Afa Amosa
  8. Kevin Gourdon
  9. Alexi Bales
  10. Ryan Lamb
  11. Rene Ranger
  12. Geoffrey Doumayrou
  13. Paul Jordaan
  14. Gabriel Lacroix
  15. Kini Murimurivalu
  16. Pierre Bourgarit
  17. Vincent Pelo
  18. Mohamed Boughanmi
  19. Gregory Lamboley
  20. Victor Vito
  21. Jean-Victor Goillot
  22. Brock James
  23. Pierre Boudehent