Heineken Champions Cup: Ospreys 35-29 Montpellier – Welsh side complete double over French champions

Heineken Champions Cup: Ospreys 35-29 Montpellier - Welsh side complete double over French champions

Wing Alex Cuthbert, who scored Ospreys’ opening try against Montpellier, has played 55 internationals for Wales
Ospreys (13) 35
Tries: Cuthbert 2, Tipuric, Morris Cons: C Evans 3 Pens: Evans 3
Montpellier (10) 29
Tries: Willemse 2, Chalureau, Darmon, Reinach Cons: Coly, Bouthier

Ospreys took a huge step towards Heineken Champions Cup knockout qualification by completing a stunning double over Montpellier.

Alex Cuthbert scored twice, Justin Tipuric and Morgan Morris also crossed, with Cai Evans kicking 15 points.

Montpellier captain Paul Willemse scored two tries, while Bastien Chalureau, Thomas Darmon and Cobus Reinach crossed.

Ospreys’ fate will be determined at Leicester next Friday.

Toby Booth’s side have lifted themselves to fourth in the pool from which eight teams will progress from the group to the Champions Cup last 16.

Tipuric was outstanding as he led his side to a notable victory, producing a brilliant try against the French champions, who missed four kicks at goal.

In contrast, full-back Evans produced an outstanding kicking display, while fly-half Owen Williams helped control proceedings.

Booth should be congratulated for his tactical approach in this nine-try thriller.

He employed six forwards on the bench to match Montpellier’s power and utilised his replacements effectively.

Ospreys were seeking to repeat a shock in December when they had humbled Montpellier in France.

Internationals Cuthbert, Owen Williams, Rhys Webb, Adam Beard and Jac Morgan started after sitting out their United Rugby Championship defeat by Leinster.

Booth swapped his starting front row and replacements as part of a rotation policy, while in-form Wales squad candidate Kieran Williams missed out with a minor knock, once-capped Joe Hawkins coming in.

With flanker Ethan Roots injured, Rhys Davies, usually a lock, started at blind-side flanker alongside captain Tipuric and Morgan.

Montpellier, captained by France lock Paul Willemse, fielded 11 of the starting team that beat Racing 92 in their most recent Top 14 game.

Visiting fly-half Louis Carbonel failed with the chance to open the scoring with an early penalty.

The physical nature of the contest was typified by a big Willemse hit on Davies that was adjudged to be legal by the officials with the hit ruled to be on the chest and not the head of the attacker.

Webb was forced to leave the field early following another big hit as he was denied one final chance to impress Warren Gatland ahead of Wales’ Six Nations selection next week. Webb was replaced by Reuben Morgan-Williams.

Tipuric took a knock while clearing out a Montpellier defender at a ruck, but was not required to leave the field for a head injury assessment.

The Wales flanker played an integral role in the opening try as Ospreys patiently moved the ball wide before Cuthbert dived over on the opposite wing. Evans converted from the touchline.

Montpellier responded quickly with an unconverted Willemse try before Evans slotted over a penalty.

England number eight Zak Mercer and hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa powered through the Ospreys’ defence to set up Willemse’s second try which was confirmed by the television match official.

Scrum-half Leo Coly took over the kicking duties after Carbonel had missed the previous two attempts, but the effort was again unsuccessful as the scores remained level.

Evans then slotted over a second penalty to give the hosts a three-point half-time advantage.

That lead advantage doubled early in the second half with another successful Evans kick.

Montpellier again retaliated with powerful running for lock Chalureau to dive over with Coly’s conversion giving the French side the lead for the first time.

Booth brought on his all Wales front-row replacements trio of Nicky Smith, Dewi Lake and Tomas Francis and they forced a penalty at the first scrum they competed in.

This laid the platform for a well-worked second try for Cuthbert with the final pass coming from Tipuric. Evans again converted from the touchline.

The see-saw nature of the fixture continued when Montpellier scored the bonus-point fourth try after centre Thomas Darmon escaped down the right-hand side.

Bouthier’s conversion gave Montpellier a one-point advantage again.

Booth responded by bringing on Morgan Morris for Alun Wyn Jones and George North for his first game in a month.

North had surgery after suffering four fractures on a facial injury suffered against Leicester in mid-December.

His introduction came just before a moment of magic from Tipuric as he started and finished the move for Ospreys’ third try.

The flanker picked up the ball off his toes before his clever kick was gathered by Keelan Giles.

The Ospreys wing also cleverly kicked the ball ahead and the chasing Tipuric expertly gathered and his momentum took him over the Montpellier line. Evans added the extras.

Back came Montpellier for a fifth try as Carbonel created the try for replacement scrum-half Reinach. The conversion was missed as Ospreys held a point advantage.

The home side turned down a late penalty kick at goal to go for the bonus point try and it was vindicated as Morris dived from close range.

Evans’ conversion slipped wide, but it mattered little as Ospreys held on for a famous victory.

Ospreys: C Evans; Cuthbert, Collins, Hawkins, Giles; O Williams, Webb: G Thomas, Baldwin, Botha, Beard, AW Jones, R Davies, Tipuric (capt), J Morgan.

Replacements: Lake, Smith, Francis, B Davies, Sutton, Morris, Morgan-Williams, North.

Montpellier: Bouthier; Tisseron, Darmon, Doumayrou, Rattez; Carbonel, Coly; Forletta, Paenga-Amosa, Lamositile, Chalureau, Willemse (capt), Van Rensburg, Becognee, Mercer.

Replacements: Langdon, Tui’nukuafe, Haouas, Stooke, Reinach, Lucas, Lam, Camara.

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)

Assistant referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England), Phil Watters (England)

TMO: Ian Tempest (England)

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