WASPS felt the humiliating sting of Leinster’s hunger to go back to back as European champions at a sell-out RDS last night.
The hosts ran in eight tries in front of a pumped up 18,300 attendance to serve up sweet revenge over the visitors.
As opening statements go by defending champions, this takes some beating.
Leinster let their main Champions Cup rivals know in no uncertain terms that they are in no mood to relinquish their hold on the trophy. .
Once again Leo Cullen’s side used the championship minutes to do their real business, scoring tries just before and after half-time to kill off what had been a stubborn Wasps resistance to that point.
Rob Kearney stated on the eve of this pool opener at the RDS that the trophy had been handed back and Leinster saw themselves as contenders again, rather than as holders.
And the hunger is clearly still there as they prepare for round two, a trip to Toulouse, next Sunday.
Some of the older members will have taken particular pleasure for the manner and size of this victory.
The last time Wasps pitched up at the south Dublin venue – an 18,300 sell-out on the night – they romped to a 33-6 victory.
That was three years ago as Leinster hit rock-bottom with five pool defeats.
But they cemented their return to the top last season with victory in the Champions Cup decider against Racing 92, a record-equalling fourth triumph in the competition.
The task facing Wasps here was obvious, with Cullen selecting 14 Ireland internationals – the vast majority of them Grand Slam winners – plus the Kiwi try-machine James Lowe to start.
As it happened he was forced to replace Dan Leavy with Ruddock in the back row before kick-off, and Ruddock was clearly fired up with a point to prove having been ommitted despite a stormer against Munster.
Although the hosts dominated territory and possession, a combination of good Wasps defending and poor Leinster decisionmaking kept the visitors in touch until the 40th minute trailing 7-3 to Sean Cronin’s opening try.
Liam Sopoaga, the 14-times capped All Black, acted out of desperation as the clock ticked into the red to prevent compatriot Lowe from scoring by deliberately
OPEN THE GATES Hooker Sean Cronin crashes over the first of eight tries for Leinster last night