Willemse, Reinach tries not enough as Ospreys beat Montpellier again
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Alex Cuthbert crossed twice as Ospreys secured a phenomenal 35-29 victory over Montpellier in Swansea on Saturday, making it back-to-back wins over the TOP 14 champions in the Champions Cup.
Justin Tipuric and Morgan Morris also dotted down for the Welsh region, with Cai Evans contributing a crucial 15 points from the tee.
Montpellier led on several occasions, but tries from Paul Willemse (2), Bastien Chalureau, Thomas Darmon and Cobus Reinach weren’t enough for the visitors.
With last month’s defeat in France still fresh in the memory, Montpellier made an uncertain start to the contest and missed the chance to take the lead as flyhalf Louis Carbonel dragged wide from the tee.
Ospreys grew in confidence and after a period of relentless pressure on the visitors’ line, opened the scoring as wing Cuthbert powered over from close range, full-back Evans adding the extras.
Montpellier responded on 26 minutes as lock Willemse crashed over, but Carbonel was off target again and Ospreys retained a slender lead.
That advantage was up to five points with half an hour played as Evan nudged a penalty, but Montpellier drew level through Willemse’s second score after a length TMO review.
Scrum-half Leo Coly couldn’t add the extras so the score remained 10-10, and Ospreys would take a lead into the break when Evans dispatched a second penalty in the final act of the first half.
Evans was on target again three minutes after the restart, but Montpellier found a third try when lock Chalureau squirmed over.
Coly hit the target with the conversion and the visitors went ahead for the first time, but their lead lasted just six minutes as Ospreys shifted the ball out to Cuthbert who dotted down for his second.
Montpellier responded with a fourth try as slick handling put centre Darmon over out wide, fullback Anthony Bouthier converting to re-establish their one-point lead.
But that advantage was short-lived again, with flanker Tipuric charging onto a kick from wing Keelan Giles before gathering brilliantly and sliding over the whitewash for Ospreys.
The gap was up to six points as Evans continued his 100% record from the tee, but Montpellier hit back again when replacement scrum-half Reinach wriggled over. However, Bouthier hooked the conversion wide, and Ospreys remained in front.
The home team’s leaders made a huge decision with three minutes to go when they opted to kick for the corner after earning a penalty in front of the posts, but they were duly rewarded when replacement lock Morris dotted down for the bonus-point try amid a driving maul.
Evans was off target for the first time on the night and left Ospreys with a precarious six-point lead, but they saw out the remaining moments and boosted their qualification hopes.
In Round Four, the final round of pool stage games, Ospreys visit Leicester Tigers on Friday and Montpellier host London Irish on Sunday.
Tries: Cuthbert 2, Tipuric, Morris
Cons: C Evans 3
Pens: Evans 3
Tries: Willemse 2, Chalureau, Darmon, Reinach
Cons: Coly, Bouthier
Ospreys: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Mike Collins, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Jac Morgan, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Rhys Davies, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Tom Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Huw Sutton, 21 Morgan Morris, 22 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 23 George North.
Montpellier: 15 Anthony Bouthier, 14 Julien Tisseron, 13 Thomas Darmon, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Vincent Rattez, 10 Louis Carbonel, 9 Leo Coly, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Alexandre Becognee, 6 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 5 Paul Willemse (captain), 4 Bastien Chalureau, 3 Titi Lamositele, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Enzo Forletta.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 George Tuinukuafe, 18 Mohamed Haouas, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Pierre Lucas, 22 Ben Lam, 23 Yacouba Camara.
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England) & Phil Watters (England)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)