Wasps 14-35 Munster: Red Army storm to victory
Wasps 14-35 Munster: Red Army storm to victory despite losing THIRTY FOUR players to Covid isolation with Brad Shields sent-off for hosts
- Munster bagged a crushing victory in the Champions Cup over Wasps
- The visitors left 34 players at home, with many self-isolating with Covid
- Wasps also suffered an outbreak, and had Brad Shields see a harsh red
- Veteran Munster captain Peter O’Mahony inspired a dominant win
They had lost so many players already that when Wasps had captain Brad Shields sent off early, then found themselves with just 13 men on the field, the writing was on the wall.
First and foremost, this Heineken Champions Cup game in Coventry took place in defiance of a Covid outbreak in the Wasps squad, which had left the fixture in grave doubt 24 hours earlier.
The game went ahead and, despite being without 34 players who were isolating, Munster stormed to victory — inspired by their veteran skipper, Peter O’Mahony.
Munster crushed Wasps away from home in their Champions Cup opening match on Sunday
Dan Shields was shown a red card for a high tackle, which spelled the end of Wasps’ challenge
For Lee Blackett’s home side, depleted by a combination of long-term injuries and the virus, this was a punishing ordeal and worse may await. Next Sunday, they take on holders Toulouse in the south of France and the Premiership club may be forced to turn to academy players to avoid having to forfeit the marquee match.
Behind the scenes, the build-up to Sunday’s opener was chaotic and tense. ‘It’s been a difficult 48 hours,’ said Blackett, the Wasps head coach. ‘This time yesterday I couldn’t see this game going ahead, when we found ourselves with eight positives. We only found out late last night that the game would go ahead.
‘The boys probably didn’t think the game was on, either. The team that took the field didn’t actually do any training.
Munster faced a major Covid crisis in the build up with 34 players forced to stay at home
‘We had 25 to pick from today — that’s all we’ve got left at the moment. On Friday night we got some results through late, then on Saturday morning we got more results and had eight positives.
‘We re-tested everyone yesterday and thankfully a couple of the guys who tested positive the day before ended up negative.’
Wasps will anxiously await updates on the fitness of Nizaam Carr and Gabriel Oghre after the forwards limped off during another damaging encounter.
Defeat was not inevitable, given the setbacks Munster had also been forced to overcome, but the Irish province proved far too strong.
Wasps have also had an outbreak in their squad as they slumped to defeat on home soil
They were led magnificently by O’Mahony, from the moment he raced back to stop Thomas Young scoring an early try with a last-gasp tackle.
The Ireland flanker was typically effective at the lineout, made breaks, passed well, kicked, hit rucks and constantly urged on his team-mates. A complete performance.
The gloriously mad-cap first half was notable for Shields’ harsh red card for a high tackle on Dave Kilcoyne and for a stunning, long-range Wasps try rounded off by Alfie Barbeary.
But Conor Murray’s shrewd chip set up Keith Earls at the other end and Munster didn’t look back. Patrick Campbell, Andrew Conway and Scott Buckley touched down after the break to turn it into a procession.
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