Saints seal dramatic win over Montpellier
MATCH REPORT: Stephen Myler struck an injury-time penalty to seal a dramatic 16-14 European Rugby Champions Cup triumph over Montpellier.
Jim Mallinder's men had led from the fourth minute after Calum Clark crashed over, only to see their lead wiped out by Frans Steyn, who scored a try and kicked two penalties to send the French side into a 14-13 lead after 66 minutes.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man, and it was Myler who had the last laugh as he showed nerves of steel to convert a penalty from 35 metres at the death. The victory leaves Northampton second behind Leinster in Pool four ahead of their trip to Castres next Sunday.
Mallinder's men sent a statement of intent after just four minutes at Franklin's Gardens. George North cleared up a loose lineout and powered into the heart of the Montpellier defence. Harry Mallinder then made a half break to release former Montpellier star Louis Picamoles, who disguised a deft pass back to Clark for him to crash over.
Myler converted at the second time of asking before he slotted a long-range penalty to put Northampton 10 points ahead. But the Montpellier juggernaut gathered speed and they got their first points thanks to a Ben Botica penalty after some heavy pressure.
And Jake White's men got right back into it four minutes before half-time. Frans Steyn slung a long pass out-wide to Nemani Nadolo, who slipped a deft offload out the back of his hand to Joffrey Michel. The replacement fullback charged down the wing and fed Steyn - and the Springbok did enough to reach over the line to cut the gap to 10-8 at half-time.
The contest descended into an arm wrestle after the break. Myler landed a penalty but that was cancelled out by Steyn as the clock ticked past the hour mark. But the French side finally hit the front with 13 minutes remaining after Northampton failed to roll away at a ruck.
North had a late chance to win it for Mallinder's men, but he was beaten by the bounce after chipping over the French defence. But Myler stepped up to clinch it at the death after Montpellier left their hands in a ruck.
For Northampton Saints
Pens: Myler 3
Pens: Botica, Steyn 2
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 George North, 10 Steve Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 James Wilson
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Marvin O'Connor, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Nic White, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Antoine Battut, 6 Jacques Du Plessis, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Konstantine Mikautadze, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Jannie Du Plessis, 19 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Vincent Martin, 23 Joffrey Michel
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Rhys Thomas (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)