Ntamack double sinks Montpellier on Kolbe's Toulouse return
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: France’s Romain Ntamack scored twice as Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe made his Toulouse return in a 23-9 over Montpellier to stretch their advantage at the top of Pool Five in the European Champions Cup.
Centre Ntamack, 20, crossed each side of the interval at Stade Ernest-Wallon before Springbok Kolbe come on as a substitute to play his first club match since lifting the Webb Ellis trophy last month.
The record four-time champions sit six points clear at the top of the standings after Welsh teenager Louis Rees-Zammit dotted down for second-placed Gloucester, who kept their hopes of a quarterfinal place alive by beating Connacht 26-17 earlier in the day.
France fullback Thomas Ramos handed the hosts a 6-0 lead after 23 minutes with two penalty goals.
Ntamack’s first try of the game came on the 35-minute mark after multiple pick and goes from the home side’s forwards near the Montpellier line.
The visitors trailed 10-3 at the break as Benoit Paillaugue slotted a penalty two minutes before half-time.
Kolbe’s fellow World Cup winner Frans Steyn closed the gap to 10-6 a minute after the interval with a long-range effort.
Ntamack’s second of the match and his fourth in three European appearances this season came as he ran in an interception from a Steyn pass to hand his side a 20-6 lead with half an hour to play.
Benoit Paillaugue added his second penalty of proceedings four minutes later.
Kolbe was given a standing ovation by the Ernest-Wallon crowd on 56 minutes and came close to crossing shortly after but was tackled into touch.
Last season’s semi-finalists closed the game off in wet conditions as Ramos slotted his third penalty with 10 minutes to maintain Toulouse’s unbeaten record after three rounds of the tournament.
Tries: Ntamack 2
Cons: Ramos 2
Pens: Ramos 3
Pens: Paillaugue 2, Steyn
Yellow card: Louis Picamoles (Montpellier, 60)
Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Romain Ntamack, 11 Maxime Médard, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Francois Cros, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Paulo Tafili, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Pierre Pages, 22 Pita Ahki, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
Montpellier: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Gabriel N’Gandebe, 13 Arthur Vincent, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Anthony Bouthier, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Louis Picamoles (captain), 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Kelian Galletier, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Youri Delhommel, 17 Grégory Fichten, 18 Mohamed Haouas, 19 Martin Devergie, 20 Kahn Fotuali’i, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Yvan Reilhac, 23 Konstantine Mikautadze.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)