Wallabies star Kurtley Beale may have played his final match for Wasps after limping off with a hamstring injury in his side’s 21-20 English premiership semi-final win against Leicester.
Beale, who will return to the NSW Waratahs at the conclusion of the season, helped Wasps reach a first grand final in nine years, but is in serious doubt for the decider at Twickenham next week after limping off early in the second half.
The 28-year-old, playing at fullback, opened the scoring with a try in the opening period in a thrilling encounter, but Wasps, who will face Exeter in the final, will be sweating his week on the availability of their star player.
Wasps started strongly with Willie Le Roux and Beale conjuring a sumptuous one-two for the game’s first try and the Wallabies fullback slid home for the score in front of a crowd of 32,000 at Ricoh Arena.
Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion to his second-minute penalty, leaving Wasps 10-0 to the good inside as many minutes.
But Leicester fought back to level the scores at 13-all before a penalty from Gopperth gave the home side a three-point lead at the break.
But after Beale’s early exit, Leicester took the upper hand and Telusa Veianu’s 54th-minute converted try looked to be enough to book their spot in the decider.
However, in the final two minutes of normal time, Josh Bassett touched down in the corner to finally breach an obdurate Tigers defence.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young is desperately hoping Beale will be fit to take his place in the side for the final.
“He went off with a bit of a hamstring injury, so fingers crossed it’s not something that’s too bad,” said Young.
“Obviously it’s a tight turnaround. But to me I’m really hoping and fingers crossed it’s not too bad and we can get him out there at Twickenham.
“It would be a really fitting final game for him.
“He showed all his quality early on before he went off, he was a real threat every time he had the ball.
Earlier in the day Exeter stunned European champions Saracens with a try deep in injury time from Sam Simmons in another absorbing affair.
Defending champions Saracens looked to have won the game when Mike Ellery vaulted over Henry Slade to put his side 16-13 ahead five minutes from time
However, Slade atoned for that defensive oversight with a stunning kick from 60 metres that bounced on the Saracens five-metre line and found touch.
From the resulting line-out, Simmons was bundled over the line by the Exeter forwards to seal an 18-16 win and book their second final appearance in as many years.
The Wallabies are battered and bruised, coach Michael Cheika has been hung out to dry by many, Rugby Australia has no friends because it hasn’t earned respect, and the last rites are being read about a code that was once known as the game they play in heaven.
It was a remarkable round of the Rugby Championship last weekend, with New Zealand losing in a massive upset. However, while Australia were unable to beat the Pumas at home, there are a few things the Wallabies can learn from the match across the ditch.
It was a truly eye-opening read this week, with an ex-NRC and Super Rugby player under the moniker ‘Johnny Football’ highlighting the reasons why a further consolidation of NRC sides based in NSW hadn’t necessarily produced two significantly stronger sides over the opening rounds of 2018.