European Champions Cup: La Rochelle 49-29 Wasps
|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|La Rochelle (30) 49|
|Tries: Aguillon, Bougarit, Botia 2, Rattez 2 Cons: James 3, Lamb 2 Pens: James 3|
|Wasps (12) 29|
|Tries: Miller, Young, Daly, Simpson, Stuart Cons: Gopperth 2|
Wasps suffered a second Champions Cup defeat of the season as La Rochelle continued their unbeaten run in Europe.
The two sides exchanged five tries in the first 30 minutes as Wasps were twice reduced to 14 men and the hosts capitalised to lead 30-12 at half-time.
Vincent Rattez added two more either side of Elliot Daly's score as Wasps launched a late charge with Joe Simpson and Will Stuart securing a bonus point.
But Levani Botia scored La Rochelle's sixth to cap a fine attacking display.
Dai Young's side began the day in second place in Pool One, but slipped to third after Ulster's 17-5 victory at Harlequins and are nine points adrift of leaders La Rochelle.
Wasps travelled to La Rochelle for the first meeting between the two teams, trailing the competition debutants by five points in the pool.
It was a tough ask for the English outfit against a side who are eight points clear of Toulon in the French league and have seen off both Ulster and Harlequins with bonus-points wins in Europe.
And the visitors were dealt a double blow when they lost starting full-back Willie le Roux to illness before kick-off and were reduced to 14 men after seven minutes when Thomas Young was sent to the sin-bin for a tip-tackle.
Despite having gone behind to a Brock James penalty, it was Wasps who crossed first as replacement full-back Rob Miller held off two defenders to touch down.
But the Premiership side, who were guilty of committing too many errors all afternoon, let the hosts back in when Pierre Aguillon charged down a poor clearing kick from Danny Cipriani before a Wasps overthrow at the line-out saw 20-year-old hooker Pierre Bougarit dive over.
Flanker Young showed power and pace to score out wide on his return to the field but La Rochelle were in again through Botia after quick ball at the ruck.
And with La Rochelle utterly dominant in attack, Juan de Jongh was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on minutes before the break to add to Wasps' woes.
The hosts secured the try bonus point just five minutes into the second half and Wasps had themselves to blame once again as Daly forced a turnover with La Rochelle on their line but his clearing kick was charged down and Rattez slid over in the corner.
Daly and Rattez then traded blows before La Rochelle's inexperience in Europe threatened to let Wasps back into the game.
Cipriani redeemed himself with a deft chip-kick to Daly, who fed Simpson for the bonus-point score before Stuart drove over from the maul.
But La Rochelle once again showed they could score with ease as Wasps had to settle for a single bonus point before next weekend's return match at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young: "They showed some real class when they got on the front foot. Some of their offloads were fantastic and they have the physicality to punch it up as well.
"We knew they were going to be a quality team, but we gifted them a few points and on top of that there were a few decisions that went against us.
"I was really pleased with the effort and commitment of my team and I saw enough today to feel confident going into next week. That try bonus point is massive for us. "
"But we have to back it up with a win next week, and we have to get a better start. If we are still in the game at 60 minutes then I'm confident we can come away with a win."
|CHAMPIONS CUP POOL ONE|
La Rochelle: Murimurivalu; Sinzelle, Doumayrou, Aguillon, Rattez; James, Bales; Priso, Bougarit, Atonio, Eaton, Jolmes, Kieft, Veivuke, Vito.
Replacements: Maurouard, Forbes, Boughanmi, Sazy, Gourdon, Goillot, Lamb, Ranger.
Wasps: Le Roux; Wade, De Jongh, Gopperth, Daly; Cipriani, Robson; McIntyre, Johnson, Cooper-Woolley, Launchbury, Gaskell, Haskell, Young, Carr
Replacements: Cruse, Harris, Moore, Myall, Willis, Simpson, Eastmond, Lovobalavu.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)