Saturday, May 14, 2022

Lyon sneak past Wasps to reach European Challenge Cup finals

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Wasps were eliminated from the European Challenge Cup in the semi-finals when they were defeated 20-18 by a strong team from Lyon at Matmut Stadium.

Lyon meet either Toulon or Saracens in Marseille in their first final in competition since 1933.

Leo Berdeu contributed 15 points for Lyon, including a try, while Yanis Charcosset also touched down.

Wasps scored two tries of their own courtesy of Dan Robson and Jimmy Gopperth, who also scored eight points.

Although this semifinal was played in 30 degree heat, it didn’t stop either side from playing the game at a fast pace.

Lyon cautioned Wasps with a counterattack that went from 22 to 22 within the first five minutes.

Wasps persevered on this occasion and had the better first half with their set piece that earned them a field position.

It took 24 minutes for both sides to be on the scoreboard.

An incredible 50/22 from Jacob Umaga gave Wasps a scrimmage just five yards from the Lyon try line.

With Lyon’s forwards tied in the mouth, Robson managed to sneak over from close range.

Lyon turned the pressure into points in the 35th minute with a successful penalty from 40 meters from a Berdeu angle.

Wasps went into halftime 8-3, with Gopperth knocking down three points from the tee.

The visitors started the second half like a house on fire as Tom Willis hit a tremendous angle to charge into the Lyon 22. They besieged the Lyon line, but the defenses remained intact.

Lyon hit back with arguably the best try scored in this year’s Challenge Cup – although Henry Arundell’s length-of-pitch result for London Irish against Toulon a week ago would have something to say about that.

Former New Zealand center Charlie Ngatai sped out from deep within his own half, spreading the ball to both Baptiste Couilloud and Toby Arnold, who was brought down just in front of the Wasps 22.

With the Wasp defense on sixes and sevens, Guillaume Marchand’s pass got Berdeu past for a stunning try.

Berdeu converted his own attempt to put Lyon ahead but Wasps took the lead through Gopperth’s boot four minutes later.

But Lyon’s pack had the teeth in their teeth as their forwards crossed the payline with ease.

Former Saracen stopper Joel Kpoku charged towards the line and backup hooker Charcosset finally pushed through to him from close range.

After two missed penalties, Berdeu made a two-point game with a successful penalty.

Wasps tried desperately to get back into play and Dan Frost had an attempt disallowed after the TV match official saw Francois Hougaard slam the ball forward in front.

Wasps set up a grandstand finish as Gopperth scored thanks to a well-crafted driving lineup.

The New Zealander went on to make it 20-18 with four minutes remaining, but it was too little too late for Wasps.

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