Montpellier stay alive after French fight
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Montpellier kept their play-off ambitions alive with a 34-13, bonus-point Pool Five triumph over Top 14 rivals RC Toulon on Sunday.
Despite the treacherous conditions, Montpellier scored five tries against the three-time European champions at the GGL Stadium – with Jan Serfontein, Henry Immelman, Vincent Giudicelli, Ruan Pienaar and Levan Chilachava all crossing in an emphatic display by the hosts.
Francois Trinh-Duc and Pienaar exchanged early penalties, before South African centre Serfontein took advantage of gaps in Toulon’s defence to slide over in front of the posts in the 13th minute. Pienaar converted.
Wing Immelman scored Montpellier’s second try in the 33rd minute, finishing nicely in the corner to improve the home side’s lead, although it was cut to 15-6 at the break by Trinh-Duc’s penalty.
Montpellier added their third try shortly after the break through Giudicelli, who peeled off the back of a rolling maul to lumber over. Pienaar added the conversion.
And it was Springbok scrumhalf Pienaar who scored the crucial bonus-point try, capitalising on good work by fullback Francois Steyn. Pienaar improved his own effort.
Georgian back row forward Mamuka Gorgodze scored Toulon’s only try midway through the second half, but replacement Chilachava wrapped things up for Montpellier with a try just before full-time to seal an important win.
Montpellier welcome Newcastle Falcons to the GGL Stadium in Round Five on January 12, when Toulon host Pool Five leaders Edinburgh at the Stade Felix-Mayol.
Tries: Pienaar, Serfontein, Immelman, Giudicelli, Chilachava
Cons: Pienaar 3
Pens: Trinh-Duc 2
Montpellier: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Arthur Vincent, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Henry Immelman, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Louis Picamoles (captain), 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Vincent Giudicelli, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Martin Devergie, 20 Benjamin Fall, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Yvan Reilhac, 23 Konstantine Mikautadze.
Toulon: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Josua Tuisova, 11 Filipo Nakosi, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Swan Rebbadj, 4 Brian Alainu’uese, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Louis Carbonel, 22 Yoann Cottin, 23 Stephane Onambele Mbarga.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mark Patton (Ireland), Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)