Olympic

Heineken Champions Cup: Montpellier 21-21 London Irish – visitors out of Europe

The Exiles were unable to reach the Champions Cup last 16, but knew a bonus-point win or victory by 20 points would send them into the Challenge Cup.

Hopes were raised when Adam Coleman, Juan Martin Gonzalez and Agustin Creevy put them 21-0 up after half-time.

But the French champions crossed three times without reply to draw level.

Thomas Darmon, Vincent Guidicelli and Cobus Reinach all touched down for Montpellier in the closing stages, the latter two tries coming while London Irish were down to 14 men following fly-half Paddy Jackson’s yellow card.

The Exiles chased in vain for a bonus-point try and almost conceded themselves at the last, but the match finished in a tie which ends their participation in European competition this season.

Montpellier were already through to the last 16 but could not finish any higher than sixth in Pool B, following home and away defeats by Ospreys.

London Irish impressed at both ends during the first period, their Australian lock forward Coleman burrowing over from an early line-out drive and their whole team stoutly holding out Montpellier when the home side began to pose more of an attacking threat.

That defensive effort was rewarded when Gonzalez, who extended his contract with the Premiership club earlier this week, dived through a gap to make it 14-0 at the interval.

His fellow Argentina international Creevy rumbled over from another line-out to established the winning margin required for a Challenge Cup spot.

But Montpellier got on the board when centre Darmon powerfully crossed for his fourth try of this season’s Champions Cup and the home side began to build momentum, culminating in Reinach’s smart sniping score from close range.

Line-ups

Montpellier: Bouthier, Ngandebe, Darmon, Doumayrou, Rattez, Carbonel, Coly; Chauvac, Paenga-Amosa, Haouas, Chalureau, Willemse (c), Van Rensburg, Camara, Mercer.

Replacements: Guidicelli, Forletta, Lamositele, Doumenc, Reinach, Lucas, Tisseron, Stooke.

London Irish: Cinti, Dykes, Morisi, Jennings, Hassell-Collins, Jackson, Powell; Fischetti, Creevy, Chawatama, Simmons (c), Coleman, Basham, Gonzalez, Cunningham-South.

Replacements: Willemse, Gigena, Hoskins, Munga, Donnell, Englefield, Poolman, Stokes.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

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