Smith's miss proves costly as Montpellier reach quarterfinals
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Montpellier survived a spirited Harlequins performance to reach the Champions Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Top 14 side lost 20-33 to Quins during their Round of 16 second leg at Twickenham Stoop, but a 40-26 first-leg win meant Montpellier won 60-59 on aggregate.
Yvan Reilhac and Julien Tisseron dotted down for the visitors in the first-half, with Louis Forsans adding seven points and Handré Pollard kicking three points.
Huw Jones, Alex Dombrandt, Joe Marchant and a Louis Lynagh double meant Quins recorded five tries in their attempts to reverse the 14-point deficit, with Marcus Smith kicking 13 points.
However, Smith failed to convert Lynagh’s second try in the 75th minute, which proved to be costly for the home side.
The hosts got off to a perfect start when Dombrandt powered through Montpellier’s defensive line before releasing Huw Jones for a first-minute try. Smith then added the extras as Harlequins quickly halved the first leg deficit.
Montpellier hit back following a scrum when Forsans drew in Marchant and Lynagh before offloading to Reilhac who then bundled over for the visitors. Forsans then went on to improve Reilhac’s try to level the score.
Dombrandt then made sure Quins regained their lead following a period of pressure from the Premiership side as he dotted down for his seventh Champions Cup try of the season, before Smith slotted his second conversion of the game.
Forsans quickly replied for Montpellier, however, as he kicked a penalty to make it a four-point game.
Quins responded to Forsans’ penalty by producing a stunning try, as Smith made a break from deep to sprint past Montpellier’s defence, finding Cadan Murley with a pass who then released Marchant to score. Smith then recorded another conversion.
Montpellier’s Tisseron then got himself on the scoresheet as he perfectly judged a Forsans cross-kick before diving over the tryline, with Forsans converting again.
With the first-half coming to a close, Quins ran in their fourth try of the game when Dombrandt picked up from the base of a scrum to find Lynagh who went over in the corner. Smith ensured Harlequins went into the interval with an 11-point lead with another conversion.
Montpellier got the first points following the break when Pollard made amends for his first-half penalty miss by kicking his second three-pointer attempt between the posts.
However, the visitors were later reduced to 14-men after committing a series of penalties, resulting in Jeremie Mauroard being handed a yellow card by referee Mike Adamson.
As Quins continued their assault on the Montpellier defence, Smith thought he had reduced the aggregate deficit to one point after dotting down – only for the try to be ruled by the TMO after Tisseron had been illegally blocked during the move.
Quins would eventually make it a one-point game when Lynagh dotted down for his second try, giving Smith a chance to give the hosts the lead on aggregate, but the England international ultimately failed in his conversion attempt as his side go out in the Round of 16.
Tries: Jones, Dombrandt, Marchant, Lynagh 2
Cons: Smith 4
Tries: Reilhac, Tisseron
Cons: Foursans 2
Pens: Foursans, Pollard
Yellow card: Jeremie Maurouard (Montpellier, 67)
Harlequins: 15 Huw Jones, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 George Hammond, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Matas Jurevicius, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Lewis Gjaltema, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Nick David.
Montpellier: 15 Julien Tisseron, 14 Gabriel N’gandebe, 13 Yvan Reilhac, 12. Handré Pollard, 11 Pierre Lucas, 10 Louis Foursans, 9 Aubin Eymeri, 8 Alexandre Becognee, 7 Yacouba Camara (captain), 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Florian Verhaeghe, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Robert Rodgers, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Zach Mercer, 20 Martin Doan, 21 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 22 Anthony Bouthier, 23 Bastien Chalureau.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Scotland), Dave Sutherland (Scotland)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)