Heineken Cup: Montpellier 16-16 Leinster

Jamie Heaslip battles with Geoffrey Doumayrou and Mickael Demarco
Leinster's Jamie Heaslip is tackled by Geoffrey Doumayrou and Mickael Demarco

Jonathan Sexton held his nerve to slot an injury-time penalty to earn holders Leinster a battling draw against Montpellier in the Heineken Cup opener.

Two early Sexton penalties put Leinster 6-3 ahead but Fulgence Ouedraogo's try helped the home side take a 13-6 lead by half-time.

Francois Trinh-Duc's penalty extended Montpellier's lead but Sean Cronin's try got Leinster back into the game.

Leinster produced late pressure and Sexton's late kick ensured the draw.

Scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue kicked Montpellier into the lead in the third minute but Sexton had Leinster on terms four minutes later.

A second Sexton penalty nudged Leinster ahead in the 17th minute but Montpellier, beaten Top 14 finalists last season, were beginning to threaten the champions' defence.

Trinh-Duc skipped past a couple of tackles to break into the Leinster 22 in the 18th minute and the visitors did well to hold out as Montpellier went through the phases.

Sexton's break into the Montpellier half appeared to have broken the siege only for Lucas Amorosino's intercept to set up a 22nd-minute try.

The Argentine blocked Isa Nacewa's attempted grubber kick and after winning his race against Fergus McFadden to grab the loose ball, off-loaded to the charging Ouedraogo who ran in the try unopposed.

Paillaugue added the conversion to extend the lead to 10-6 and a further penalty from the scrum-half extended the advantage to 13-6 at the interval.

Montpellier's pack were conclusively winning their battle with the Leinster eight.

The French club continued to look the more dangerous side after the break and Trinh-Duc extended their advantage to 10 with a 56th-minute penalty.

Leinster looked in a degree of trouble and their hopes suffered another blow seven minutes later when Sexton missed a straightforward penalty.

But the Leinster pack were finally beginning to match their opponents and the game was back in the melting pot in the 66th minute when replacement hooker Cronin barged through some weak tackling to notch a try.

Sexton kicked the conversion and suddenly there was only three points in it.

With eight minutes to go, Leinster had a difficult penalty chance to level but captain Leo Cullen instead opted to kick for the corner.

The gamble didn't pay off as the visitors failed to control their possession but they continued to threaten and Sexton brilliantly held his nerve to slot a difficult penalty from wide out with the last kick of the game.


Leinster coach Joe Schmidt:

"That's typical Johnny (Sexton). I don't think he was rattled by it at all.

"I think it helps him narrow his focus and get the job done, and he did that superbly."

Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie:

"Leinster had possession, they didn't lower their rhythm, they played in a methodical and structured manner.

"They didn't put us in too much difficulty but they made us retreat and retreat and made us foul. It wasn't stolen."


Montpellier: L Amorosino; T Nagusa, G Doumayrou, S Fernandez, Y Audrin; F Trinh-Duc, B Paillaugue; N Leleimalefaga, A Creevy, M Bustos; M Demarco, T Privat; F Ouedraogo, M Gorgodze, M Matadigo

Replacements: J Tomas for Paillaugue 52, M Nariashvili for Leleimalefaga 78, R Jansen van Vuuren for Creevy 63, G Jgenti for Bustos 62, D Hancke for Privat 59, R Martin for Matadigo 40

Not Used: P Bosch, M Bustos Moyana

Leinster: R Kearney; I Nacewa, F McFadden, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, M Ross; L Cullen, D Browne; K McLaughlin, S O'Brien, J Heaslip

Replacements: E Reddan for Boss 51, S Cronin for Strauss 57, N White for Ross 59, D Toner for D Browne 57, S Jennings for McLaughlin 48

Not Used: J McGrath, I Madigan, E O'Malley