Leon broke his 89-year wait to reach the big final by winning the European Challenge Cup, breaking Wasps’ trophy hopes this season.
- Lyon beat Wasps to reach the final of the All-French European Challenge Cup
- The French team had to wait 89 years to reach the big final
- The Wasps have not won a trophy since 2008 and their hopes have been dashed again
One by one, in the closing minutes, a puff of smoke billowed from the cold shadow of the Tribune Oyster. When it came to the final game, the locals lit their cigarettes and filled their lungs with nicotine to ease the nerves of the failed slow charge of the wasps.
For Leon, who has been retained, the 89-year wait for him to reach the major finals has come to an end. For wasps, the barren magic continues. They have not won a trophy since Lawrence Dalaglio took over the Premiership in 2008 and the current Bali must now spend the next year in their shadow.
Wasps didn’t treat it like a second-class competition. In the final whistle, the distracted young bodies on the artificial pitch were knocked out, missing out on opportunities that cost them a place in the Challenge Cup final.
Reaching the European Challenge Cup final, Leon had plenty of reasons to celebrate
Wasps (white) loses to France 2 in thrilling semifinal clash on Saturday afternoon
The first half was dominated by visitors. They controlled the field under clear instructions to abandon their adventurous racing game and kick each time they had the ball in their own half. Almost every member of the back puts a boot on the ball at some point.
After pulling out the initial attack line, Wasps’ pressure finally provided an attempt 24 minutes later. Jacob Umaga slammed a 50-22 kick at break in the halfway line and Jack Willis claimed the lineout. Maule was a little short but Dan Robson saw a hole in the bottom right of the goal.
There were signs of danger from the home side, but for the greater part of the game their number 10 Leo Bardeu was surrounded by sleeping monsters. Beas Aloe and Tom West were the front-runners.
Leon’s former Saracens Lock Joel Kopoku was the opener for the challenge, and he wrestled through tackles as both teams exchanged penalties.
Lyon’s Pierre-Louis Barasi beat Wasps as Lyon set up an all-French final with Toulon.
“At half-time, we felt more in control than the five-point lead we got,” said Wasp coach Lee Blackett. “We are spoiled. What he can win in the game is a good conversion rate at 22. ‘
At a temperature of 30oC the axles dry out and pay for their lack of precision. In the 17th minute, Leon came to life. Throwing a quick lineout inside his half, center-up Charlie Ngatai charged up-field and, after six offloads, Berdeau sank for a momentum-breaking score.
On the other side of Jimmy Goparth’s penalty, Tuisova flexed his muscles to snatch the ball from Umaga’s grip. Failing to collect the booming high ball, Leon entered the Wasps 22 and, after much hard work, the 20-year-old Yannis Charcoset was empowered for a second.
Wasps only kept getting errors but at the last minute they started playing. James Gaskell claimed the lineout and handed the ball to Joe Launchbury who scored from the maul.
As the clock ticked, Leon returned to restart at the speed of a twice-cooked escargot. The Wasps were ready to launch one last attack but could not get out of their half as their campaign went into the final puff of smoke.
The Wasps have not won a trophy since 2008 but their sterile race goes to next year