European Champions Cup: Montpellier 36-26 Glasgow Warriors
|European Champions Cup Pool 3|
|Montpellier: (14) 36|
|Tries: Nadolo, Ruffenach, Immelman 2, Paillaugue Cons: Paillaugue 4 Pens: Steyn|
|Glasgow Warriors: (19) 26|
|Tries: Brown, P. Horne, Grigg, G. Horne Cons: P. Horne 2, Russell|
Montpellier held off a spirited Glasgow Warriors to keep themselves in the hunt for the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
Five tries were scored in the opening quarter; Fraser Brown, Peter Horne and Nick Grigg crossing for Glasgow, with Nemani Nadolo and Romain Ruffenach responding for the home side.
Two tries from Henry Immelman and one for Benoit Paillaugue gave Montpellier firm control and a bonus point.
George Horne scored Glasgow's fourth to secure a bonus point in defeat.
Last week's loss to the French side in the reverse fixture at Scotstoun extinguished Glasgow's flickering European hopes for this season, coming after defeats in the opening two pool matches at Exeter and at home to Leinster.
Despite back-to-back league fixtures against rivals Edinburgh coming up over the festive period, head coach Dave Rennie named a relatively strong team featuring 12 Scotland internationals for what was effectively a dead-rubber for his side.
One of those, fit-again Scotland hooker Brown, caught Montpellier fly-half Aaron Cruden out early on, charging down the New Zealander's attempted clearance and gathering the ball to score.
A neat line-out move gave the hosts the platform to respond five minutes later, the man-mountain of a wing Nadolo proving too powerful to stop.
Finn Russell will be playing his rugby in France next year and Peter Horne may well be the man to fill his boots. With Russell on the bench here, Horne stepped into the 10 jersey and kept the Montpellier defence guessing with the variety of his attacking game.
After Warriors forced a turnover close to the try-line, Horne received the ball and ghosted through a gap to cruise over for Glasgow's second try.
The line-out would again prove to be their Achilles heel, however, as it has throughout this competition. Hooker Ruffenach wriggled over the line to finish off the rolling maul.
Montpellier head coach Vern Cotter would have been furious at his side's inability to build on these scores and they were punished yet again.
Horne's cross-field kick was perfectly executed to find Lee Jones. The wing recycled the ball, Alex Dunbar punched another hole in the defence and centre partner Grigg used his squat frame to bounce off a tackle to score.
Five tries scored, 19-14 to the visitors after 20 breathless opening minutes.
The second quarter was every bit as frenetic, but a a string of handling errors and some good steals by Glasgow near their own line meant the scoreboard remained the same at the break.
That man Nadolo was on the rampage again early in the second half, the Fijian blasting through Tommy Seymour's tackle to bear down on the Glasgow try-line. Only an outstanding last-ditch tackle from Ali Price prevented a try, but the reprieve lasted all of one phase as substitute Immelman crossed to give Montpellier the lead for the first time.
Two minutes later they extended that lead. Price's attempted box-kick near his own line was charged down and the ball was shipped to scrum-half Paillaugue to score and secure a four-try bonus-point for the French side.
Seymour may well have nightmares about the hulking figure of Nadolo for some time. The British and Irish Lion, usually extremely reliable in defence, again found himself swatted aside like a schoolboy thrown into a seniors game as Nadolo raced clear, fed Cruden and he in turn set Immelman free for try number five.
Warriors were not prepared to merely accept defeat, and some superb off-loading from Grigg and Ruaridh Jackson put substitute George Horne in under the posts, ensuring Rennie's side at least claimed their second point of the tournament with a four-try bonus.
Francois Steyn's late penalty closed the door on any possibility of a late Glasgow flurry and ensured Montpellier the victory that hauls them back into contention in Pool Three.
Montpellier: Mogg; N'gandebe, Steyn, Serfontein, Nadolo; Cruden, Paillaugue; Fichten, Ruffenach, Jonker, Van Rensburg, Mikautadze, Galletier, Bardy, Picamoles (capt).
Replacements: Du Plessis, Nariashvilli, Haouas, Delannoy, Ouedraogo, Sanga, Immelman, Nagusa.
Glasgow Warriors: Jackson; Seymour, Grigg, Dunbar, Jones; Horne, Price; Bhatti, Brown, Z Fagerson, McDonald, Gray, Wilson (capt), Smith, Vunisa.
Replacements: MacArthur, Allan, Halanukonuka, Cummings, Fusaro, Horne, Russell, Matawalu.