Champions Cup: Montpellier v Leinster

Leo Cullen's side bid to make it six wins from six and secure top seeding for the quarter-finals

Patrick Madden Sat, Jan 20
LIVE: Champions Cup: Montpellier v Leinster

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Leinster's concluding Champions Cup pool fixture away to Montpellier.

    This weekend 14 teams will slug it out for the seven remaining places in the competition's last eight.

    Leinster, however, are not one of them. As it stands they are the only side to have qualified for the knockouts, and five wins from five mean they are already guaranteed a home quarter-final.

    But it's not a case of pipe and slippers for Leo Cullen's side just yet - they need a bonus point to secure top seeding in the next round.

    Meanwhile Montpellier's prospect of qualifying are slim - they need to win with a bonus point and hope Exeter don't do the same away to Glasgow,. Regardless, they will surely relish the opportunity to bloody the nose of the tournament favourites this afternoon.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from the Altrad Stadium - an intriguing finale awaits.

    Come on!!!


    Montpellier: B Fall; T Nagusa, F Steyn, J Serfontein, N Nadolo; A Cruden, R Pienaar; M Nariashvili, B Du Plessis, A Guillamon; N Van Rensburg, K Mikautadze; K Galletier, Y Camara, L Picamoles. Replacements: R Ruffenach, Y Watremez, M Haouas, J Delannoy, F Ouedraogo, G Aprasidze, J Tomane, J Mogg.

    Leinster: R Kearney; J Larmour, R Henshaw, I Nacewa, J Lowe; R Byrne, J Gibson Park; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, J Ryan; D Leavy, J van der Flier, J Conan. Replacements: J McGrath, B Byrne, A Porter, R Molony, J Murphy, L McGrath, J Carbery, F McFadden.

    Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

  • While the permutations are simple enough for Leinster, the qualification picture is murkier elsewhere.

    However, Gerry Thornley is on hand to clear things up - you can read his weekend preview HERE.

  • Cullen has shuffled his pack again for today's game, but despite making six changes he can still field a strong starting XV - a testament to Leinster's strength in depth.

    Rob Kearney returns at fullback meaning wonder kid Jordan Larmour - who received a first call-up to the Ireland squad this week - shuffles across to the wing. James Lowe makes up a powerful back three.  

    Ross Byrne starts at outhalf with Johnny Sexton getting the afternoon off, meanwhile up front Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong and Jack Conan all start in a fearsome looking pack.

    Joey Carbery returns on the bench - ideal timing with the Six Nations two weeks away.

  • Montpellier's bark has proven louder than their bite so far in the Champions Cup, and their hopes of qualification hang by a thread. Still, any side which boasts an 8-9-10 axis of Louis Picamoles, Ruan Pienaar and Aaron Cruden need to be taken seriously.  
  • 15 mins until kick off!
  • Leinster are as short as 6-4 in places to win this year's competition. Winning away in France would certainly represent a big statement of intent.
  • Here come Leinster at the Altrad Stadium, decked out in their blue and white table cloth away kit.
  • Aaron Cruden has the ball in hand...


  • 1 min: Cruden kicks down the throat of Lowe but his left-footed clearance is charged down on the 22. The ball goes loose and the home side secure it - early platform for Montpellier on the Leinster 10.
  • 2 min: Good early ball retention from the hosts. They move it wide to Nadolo who rumbles inside off his left wing. Pienaar tries a chip over the top where Kearney covers - but again the clearance fails to find touch. Leinster reprieved as Montpellier knock on as they look to counter.
  • 3 min: Solid Leinster scrum and they have possession on halfway. The visitors move it through the hands nicely, Cronin popping up on the left wing. Byrne kicks for the corner where Fall covers, he looks inside and Montpellier try to play from deep.
  • Montpellier finally kick and fail to find touch. Gibson park finds Lowe with a short ball and the big wing bursts into the 22. He's hauled down by three tacklers but presents the ball back brilliantly and Gibson Park recycles it to Byrne on the short side and he touches down in the corner. They check with the TMO for a knock on but it was clean.

    Byrne misses the conversion.


  • 9 min: Leinster lineout just inside their half and they get clean ball off the top, moving it left where Larmour and Kearney both get their hands on it. Nacewa then sees a kick charged down but it nearly works for Leinster, who utilise space on the right with Cronin making a darting run up the wing.
  • 11 min: Montpellier have a lineout on their 22 after a good Byrne kick and win it at the front, but there's a knock on at the next phase. Good platform for Leinster.
  • 12 min: Solid Leinster scrum and they move it right, but a flat ball from Byrne to Henshaw just creeps forward.
  • 14 min: Steyn kicks long after the hosts win the scrum and Kearney covers before dancing back into traffic. It's chipped over the top and Lowe puts good pressure on Picamoles, before Montpellier clear into touch. The big number eight gets treatment after getting an elbow to the head.
  • 15 min: Picamoles has got his head bandaged but he's straight back into the thick of it with a big tackle on van der Flier on halfway. More probing play from Leinster before Byrne kicks in behind Nadolo and it's cleared as far as the 10.
  • 17 min: Leinster win the lineout but then get turned over, great work from prop Nariashvili. Montpellier move it right and Lowe gets caught out of position and he's beaten on the outside, but a pass back inside from Nagusa strays forward. Let off.
  • 19 min: Good passage of play for Leinster, retaining the ball well and making decent yards up to the Montpellier 10-metre. Lowe is heavily involved, emerging on the right wing to make a couple of good carries.  

    Penalty Leinster after a Montpellier body gets in the way of Gibson Park. Byrne to go for goal from the right on the 10 - great kick.


  • 22 min: Montpellier looking for a quick response. Nagusa engineers space for Steyn on the right wing and he's hauled into touch - but the hosts had a penalty coming.

    It's straight in front of the sticks and just outside of the 22, but Cruden kicks it into touch on the left.

  • Montpellier's decision to go for the corner is vindicated. Du Plessis hits jumper Van Rensburg and the hosts set the maul, quickly grinding their way over the line where the hooker plops the ball down.

    Cruden slots a brilliant conversion.


  • 26 min: Good kick chase from Healy and Conan and Leinster have a lineout on halfway. They move it right but then Lowe sees his pass intercepted by Nadolo. Luckily for the visitors the big winger was stationary when he caught the ball and was quickly wrapped up.
  • 28 min: Montpellier swing it wide and Nadolo has a rumble from deep, bouncing Larmour before being hauled down. It's a good momentum builder for the hosts and Cruden breaks is then tackled on halfway before Pienaar kicks over the top, Waste of possession.
  • 31 min: Box kick from Gibson Park and the covering Fall is well wrapped up. Montpellier secure it though and Pienaar kicks from the base where the chasing Nadolo knocks on. Scrappy period of play.
  • 33 min: Solid Leinster scrum and they shift it left. Henshaw rips a brilliant pass out to Lowe on the left wing but it was a fraction forward. Unlucky.
  • 35 min: Good spell of possession for the hosts matched by ferocious Leinster defence. There are some huge collisions in midfield, but Montpellier edge their way inside the visitor's 10 and up to the 22.  
  • 36 min: Big carry from Du Plessis into the Leinster 22 but Furlong gets pinged for ripping the ball while on the ground. Cruden goes for the corner again.
  • Lovely move from the hosts. Du Plessis hits jumper Van Rensburg, who pops off to Picamoles, and the French number eight finds Camara on his shoulder who steps and crosses. Leinster sucked in by the maul there.

    Cruden converts.


  • 39 min: The host's tails are up now and Cruden spins a lovely pass out to the left wing where Steyn carries across halfway.
  • 40 min: Huge bit of work from Furlong. Kearney loses an aerial battle and Pienaar switches the play with a kick to Steyn on the left wing. He pops inside to Nadolo but somehow the Ireland prop is there to tackle the big wing and force a turnover.
  • The teams are back out in Montpellie - and Byrne gets us back underway!
  • 42 min: Good maul from Leinster inside their own half and the hosts get pinged, Byrne kicking the penalty into touch just shy of the home 22. Quick ball off the top and they move it left, Lowe making another big carry up to the home five metre. Leinster have the advantage.
  • 43 min: Leinster keep it tight and try to force their way over - the ball goes loose, but Byrne sticks the penalty into the corner.
  • 45 min: Cronin hits his man, the ball is played to Toner on a big crash ball. Leinster really probing around the fringes, plenty of short carries from the base.
  • 46 min: Nearly an opening for Larmour on the left but he's chopped down by Picamoles. Great ball retention from Leinster though.
  • Leinster's patience is rewarded. Toner sucks in Montpellier shirts and Gibson Park flips a quick pass to Kearney who then finds Henshaw on the right wing, and he steps back inside Nadolo to score.

    Byrne's conversion just fades wide on the right.


  • 49 min: Great linespeed from Leinster and van der Flier, who makes a big tackle in midfield and then hacks the ball upfield. Nagusa can't secure it and Nacewa and Ryan are on it in a flash, secondrow Mikautadze caught offside.

    Leinster penalty under the posts - Byrne knocks it over. The visitors lead.


  • 51 min: Leinster on the front foot. Cronin offloads to Ryan who finds Leavy, Leavy finds Gibson Park who kicks ahead. Cruden covers across and hacks into touch ahead of Lowe. Big chance for Leinster.
  • What a start to the half for Leinster. They secure the lineout and set a textbook maul in towards the posts, with Cronin touching down at the back.

    Byrne knocks over the conversion.


  • 54 min: Lowe collects the restart but his clearance is semi charged down by Fall. Leinster then lose the lineout, but Camara is penalised for interfering in the air.
  • 57 min: Nadolo carries on the left but again Furlong is there to meet him. Excellent workrate form the tighthead.
  • 58 min: Leinster lineout on halfway and they get good ball, Cronin wrapping round and feeding the new scrumhalf McGrath. The visitors swing it wide but then kick from Nacewa goes dead. Montpellier scrum on their 10.

    Joey Carbery is on for Rob Kearney!

  • 60 min: Nadolo gets to stretch his legs on the left but he's well tackled by Larmour, who lets him steal a yard then hauls him down with assistance from Henshaw.
  • 62 min: Lowe relishes contact and he makes a surging carry on halfway. Leinster possession on halfway but Nacewa's kick in behind is charged down. Scramblnig cover from the visitors but they secure the ball inside their own 22.
  • 63 min: Great pressure from Leinster and Larmour picks off a Montpellier pass on the right wing. There's a high tackle and Leinster have a penalty which is nudged into touch inside the 22.
  • 64 min: Neat move form the lineout and McGrath is held up just short. Leinster retain the ball and run a number of short phases around the fringes. Jack McGrath steams in on a crash ball and is held up inside the five. Montpeller are on the ropes but Watremez does brilliantly on the deck to turn it over.
  • 67 min: A new frontrow for Leinster now. Montpellier penalty is kicked into touch just inside the visitor's 10, and they get slick ball off the top.
  • 68 min: Big rumble from Nadolo and this time Larmour can't haul him down. First real pressure from Montpellier this half and they have a penalty advantage. The move comes to nothing out on the right so the referee brings play back. Cruden kicks it into the corner - could be in for a grandstand finish.
  • 69 min:  Mikautadze plucks the lineout out of the air as the Imperial March form Star Wars rings out in the crowd. Leinster drag the maul down - Montpellier go back into the corner.
  • 70 min: Huge jump from Toner who wins the linout against the throw. Leinster clear and Montpellier run it back, but brilliant work from Porter and Jack McGrath on the floor sees them win a penalty.
  • Glasgow Warriors have scored two stunning tries and lead Exeter 28-14.
  • 75 min: Sustained Leinster pressure on the Montpellier 22 comes to nothing but they've sucked up valuable time. Nearly there.
  • 77 min: Montpellier lineout on the right and they get good ball, Cruden bringing Picamoles into play in midfield. Great step and an offload to Van Rensburg but he spills it forward.

    Sean Cronin is named man of the match - deserved.

  • 79 min: A Montpelleir move breaks down but there was a Leinster knock on. Scrum for the hosts and one final chance. It's moved to the right wing and kicked ahead, but the ball goes dead.
  • Right, thanks for joining this afternoon. It's a cleansweep for Leinster, who look like European champions in the making.