European Challenge Cup: Montpellier 23-22 Cardiff Blues
|European Challenge Cup: Montpellier v Cardiff Blues|
|Montpellier (13) 23|
|Tries: Malzieu, Willemse Cons: Catrakilis 2 Pens: Catrakilis 3|
|Cardiff Blues (16) 22|
|Tries: Cuthbert Cons: Patchell Pens: Patchell 3, Evans 2|
Paul Willemse's last-gasp converted try for Montpellier cruelly denied Cardiff Blues victory in the European Challenge Cup.
Alex Cuthbert crossed for the opening try and although Julien Malzieu replied, Blues led at the break.
Blues defended heroically in the second half and were leading with a minute remaining.
But Willemse scored from the very last move of the game and Demetri Catrakilis converted to secure victory.
It was tough on the Blues, who nonetheless picked up a losing bonus point and remain in contention in Pool Three.
Rhys Patchell, who will leave the Blues to join Scarlets at the end of the season, put the visitors ahead with a first minute penalty.
Montpellier thought they had made the perfect response when full-back Ben Lucas, a late replacement for Anthony Floch crossed for a try.
But Montpellier's joy was short-lived as the TMO ruled there had been a forward pass in the build-up.
Catrakilis scored Montpellier's first points to bring them level but two Patchell kicks gave Blues a six-point advantage.
Catrakilis' second penalty reduced the deficit but Patchell played a prominent role in the game's opening try.
The fly-half's kick bounced kindly for Wales wing Cuthbert, who crossed for his second try against Montpellier in the space of the week.
Catrakilis failed with a penalty attempt but the fly-half succeeded with the last kick of the first half, converting wing Malzieu's try.
Blues had to withstand Montpellier pressure early in the second half and they were given a let-off when the TMO denied.
The Blues defended heroically under immense pressure but they were dealt a blow when number eight Manoa Vosawai was yellow carded.
Catrakilis's third penalty of the evening brought Montpellier level before two Jarrod Evans penalties gave Blues a six-point cushion with eight minutes remaining.
But Danny Wilson's side were denied victory with a minute remaining as Willemse's try, converted by Catrakilis, edged Montpellier home.
Montpellier: Anthony Floch, Julien Malzieu, Timoci Nagusa, Robert Ebersohn, Marvin O'Connor; Demetri Catrakilis, Nic White; Mikheil Nariashvili, Charles Geli, Jannie Du Plessis, Robins Tchale-Watchou, Paul Willemse, Fulgence Ouedraogo (capt), Antoine Battut, Akapusi Qera.
Replacements: Mickael Ivaldi, Pat Cilliers, Nicolas Mas, Sitaleki Timani, Wiaan Liebenberg, Benjamin Lucas, Anthony Tuitavke, Pierre Berard.
Cardiff Blues: Rhys Patchell, Alex Cuthbert, Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo, Tom James; Jarrod Evans, Tavis Knoyle; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Kristian Dacey, Taufa'ao Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Manoa Vosawai.
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Sam Hobbs, Dillon Lewis, James Down, Josh Turnbull, Lloyd Williams, Tom Isaacs, Blaine Scully.
Referee: Ian Tempest