Leinster edge Montpellier in thriller

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 14:42
Large leinster v montpellier. 800

CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT: Leinster launched their bid for a fourth European title with a nail-biting 24-17 home victory over Montpellier in their Champions Cup Pool 3 opener at the RDS Arena in Dublin.

The win was Leinster's third successive home victory over Montpellier.

The Irish side gained a bonus point through their four tries - from fullback Joey Carbery, flank Josh van der Flier, centre Robbie Henshaw and wing Barry Daly.

Montpellier, who trailed 7-12 after playing with a first-half wind advantage, hung in there thanks to a Nemani Nadolo double. Ruan Pienaar’s 70th-minute penalty had the gap back to seven points, but Leinster, despite losing Adam Byrne to the sin-bin, stood firm to go straight to the top of Pool 3.

Leinster fielded two Champions Cup newcomers in Daly and James Ryan, the latter replacing Scott Fardy whose wife went into labour earlier today. Injuries to Jonathan Sexton (dead leg) and Aaron Cruden (thigh) robbed the game of a mouth-watering out-half duel, with Leo Cullen’s men also kicking off their European season without the sidelined Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Sean O’Brien.

After an initial surge out wide by Benjamin Fall, Ryan gobbled up a loose ball in the Leinster 22 and his second-row partner Devin Toner stole an early lineout.

The wind-backed Pienaar and Jesse Mogg pinned Leinster back with some well-placed kicks, however, the former pushed a 13th-minute penalty wide to let Tadhg Furlong off the hook for a scrum infringement.

It was Leinster who hit the front in the 17th minute, Sexton’s young replacement Ross Byrne pressurising Mogg with a clever kick and then, armed with a penalty advantage, he fired a pass out for Carbery to slice in between Frans Steyn and Nadolo and score the province’s 400th European Cup try.

Byrne was unable to convert from out wide, but excellent work in slowing down Montpellier ball gave Leinster further encouragement. Nadolo was then caught out by two pacy runs from Adam Byrne, number 10 Byrne also finding a hole in midfield before van der Flier burrowed over for a seven-pointer.

However, just as Leinster threatened to pull the trigger again, Bismarck du Plessis got in at the breakdown twice to lift the big-spending visitors, who have former Leinster lock Nathan Hines as their forwards coach.

With home captain Isa Nacewa, unfortunately, hobbling off, Steyn surged through midfield and Nadolo was held up just short. From the resulting scrum, a bouncing pass sat up fortuitously for the big Fijian to finish off and Pienaar converted for a 12-7 deficit.

Into the second half, the luck was on Leinster’s side when Ross Byrne’s cross-field kick came off the hands off Mogg and Joe Tomane and the onrushing Henshaw gobbled it up for an easy run-in, with Byrne converting for a 19-7 lead.

Eager replacement Cian Healy and Adam Byrne led Leinster’s charge for a bonus point but turnovers from Mikheil Nariashvili and Tomane rescued Vern Cotter’s charges. Henshaw did likewise for his side, recovering brilliantly to tackle the menacing Nadolo and then rip the ball out of Pienaar’s grasp.

Nonetheless, the size difference paid off for Nadolo on the hour mark when he batted away attempted tackles from Luke McGrath and Noel Reid to draw Montpellier back within five points.

It was Daly’s turn to show off his finishing skills five minutes later, Henshaw and Carbery combining to set up the winger for a muscular finish past Steyn and Timoci Nagusa in the left corner.

However, Leinster lapsed just when they needed to show composure. Poor discipline from Ross Molony allowed Pienaar to kick Montpellier into bonus point range, and winger Byrne’s deliberate knock-on for a yellow card left the hosts scrambling to hold on.

Nagusa blundered when he failed to free up a man outside him, though, and Montpellier’s levelling try never came. They kept hold of their losing bonus point, nonetheless, as Ross Byrne was short with a late long-range penalty.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
: Carbery, Van dr Flier, Henshaw, Daly
Cons: Nacewa, R Byrne

For Montpellier:
: Nadolo 2
Cons: Pienaar 2
Pen: Pienaar

Yellow Card: Adam Byrne (Leinster, 75)

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Isa Nacewa (c), 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Fergus McFadden

Montpellier: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Joseph Tomane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Thomas Darmon, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Kelian Galletier, 5 Nicholaas Van Rensburg, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Julien Delannoy, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Timoci Nagusa, 23 Joffrey Michel

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Andrew Baird (Ireland)

Source: @leinsterrugby

There are currently no matches being played
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 05h05 Sydney
Fri, 23 March 2018
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Jaguares v Lions 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Lions v Blues 35 | 38
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 6 4 0 2 20
Wasps 6 3 0 3 17
Ulster 6 4 0 2 17
Harlequins 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 22
Saracens 6 3 1 2 18
Ospreys 6 2 1 3 15
Northampton Saints 6 1 0 5 6
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 6 0 0 27
Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 15
Montpellier 6 2 0 4 13
Glasgow Warriors 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 4 1 1 21
Racing Metro 6 4 0 2 19
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Leicester Tigers 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Scarlets 6 4 0 2 21
Toulon 6 4 0 2 19
Bath 6 4 0 2 18
Treviso 6 0 0 5 4