Five-try Leinster makes statement against Montpellier
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Leinster’s quest for a fifth European star got off to the perfect start on Saturday, as they secured a comfortable 35-14 win over Montpellier at GGL Stadium.
The 2018 Champions Cup winners were on top from start to finish, scoring five tries, including two scores for European debutants in Ciaran Frawley and Jimmy O’Brien.
It was Luke McGrath who got the Irish province on the move early, stepping and heading towards the Montpellier 22 before they moved play left and back to the right.
The ball eventually reached Josh van der Flier in acres of space and the back-row charged towards the corner, getting over the line before Montpellier could shift across.
The two sides then traded penalty kicks between Benoit Paillaugue and Ross Byrne, before a stunning step and offload from Rhys Ruddock released a pocket of space for Frawley in the corner and the centre managed to dot down for Leinster’s second try.
Paillaugue trimmed the lead again with two further penalties, but they were sandwiched between a third Leinster score from Dave Kearney, scooping up a cross-field kick from Byrne and diving over the try line.
Leinster would go in search of the bonus point in the second period and duly got it on 68 minutes, with the returning Dan Leavy managing to cross the whitewash after a series of powerful drives from the forwards.
Montpellier did respond with a first try from Gabriel N’gandebe but it was the Irish province who rounded off the scoring with a first European score from O’Brien on Heineken Champions Cup debut, picking up a breaking ball and sprinting clear to the line.
Leinster will take on Northampton Saints in Round 2, with Montpellier travelling to take on Wasps.
* As it happened. To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Pens: Paillaugue 3
Tries: Van der Flier, Frawley, Kearney, Leavy, O’Brien
Cons: R Byrne, H Byrne
Pens: R Byrne, H Byrne
Montpellier: 15 Vincent Rattez, 14 Gabriel N’gandebe, 13 Yvan Reilhac, 12 Arthur Vincent (captain), 11 Vincent Martin, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Jacques Du Plessis, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bastien Chalureau, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Grégory Fichten.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck Du Plessis, 17 Enzo Forletta, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Louis Picamoles , 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Louis Foursans, 22 Paul Vallée, 23 Axel Bevia.
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Hugo Keenan, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Ciaran Frawley, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy,
1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 James Ryan, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Dan Leavy.
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Cedric Marchat (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)