Leinster v Montpellier

Leo Cullen's men look to become the first side to qualify for the quarter-finals

John O'Sullivan Fri, Jan 13
LIVE: Leinster v Montpellier

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  • Hello and welcome to the Irish Times rugby blog from a freezing cold RDS. John O'Sullivan here and I'll be keeping tabs on Leinster's bid to make the Champions Cup quarterfinals if they can beat Montpellier tonight.  

  • Lets start with the teams.


    LEINSTER:  Isa Nacewa (c); Adam Byrne, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Rory O’Loughlin; Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath; Jack McGrath, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs, Jack Conan, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements:  Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Daniel Leavy, Jamison Gibson-Park, Ross Byrne, Rob Kearney.


    MONTPELLIER:  Joffrey Michel; Timoci Nagusa, Vincent Martin, Joseph Tomane, Nemani Nadolo; Frans Steyn, Nic White; Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Jannie Du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Konstantine Mikautadze, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Akapusi Qera (c), Pierre Spies. Replacements:  Charles Geli, Yvan Watremez, Davit Kubriashvili, Antoine Battut, Kelian Galletier, Tomas O’Leary, Henry Immelman, Jesse Mogg.


    Referee: JP Doyle (England).

  • A few facts and figures for you to peruse.


    Previous meetings: (2011-12) Montpellier 16 Leinster 16. Leinster 25 Montpellier 3. (2016-17) Montpellier 22 Leinster 16.


    Results so far: Leinster – W 33-15 v Castres (h); L 16-22 v Montpellier (a); W 37-10 v Northampton (a); W 60-13 v Northampton (h). Montpellier - L 14-16 v Northampton (a); W 22-16 v Leinster (h); W 32-14 v Castres (h); L 23-29 v Castres (a).


    Leading try scorers: Leinster – Isa Nacewa 5. Montpellier – Nemani Nadolo 3.      


    Leading points scorers: Leinster – Isa Nacewa 67. Montpellier – Francois Steyn 30.


    Betting (Paddy Power): 1/6 Leinster, 20/1 Draw, 4/1 Montpellier. Handicap odds (Montpellier +10pts) 10/11 Leinster, 22/1 Draw, 10/11 Montpellier.

  • The two teams are warming up on tyhe pitch. I use that terms advisedly. It's pppppppperishing.  
  • Gavin Cummiskey has written a piece on the future or lack there of, of Zebre. You can take a sneaky peak at it here.
  • While we are on the subject of reading material, you can read Gerry Thornley's match preview of tonight's game here.  
  • Leinster win the first thing up for decision tonight.  
  • Inside the Montpellier dressing room.  
  • There is 12 minutes to kickoff.  
  • The stadium announcer has just gone through the Leinster team to muted cheers. Most of the crowd are huddled beneath the stands having their penultimate drink. I'd say the old hot whiskey is going down a treat.  
  • Montpellier players have headed back to the dressing room, passing the coterie of Leinster ultras (those who choose to stand during the match) under the Anglesea stand who greet them with a chorus of Leinster, Leinster.  
  • Leinster replacements going through a few last stretches. Important to stay warm.  
  • There are four minutes to kickoff.  
  • Judging by the flags the wind is blowing diagonally down the ground from the Anglesea Road/North Stand end of the ground.  
  • One for the visiting fans
  • Teams are on the pitch. Waiting for referee JP Doyle.  
  • Right the ref is here as are most of the crowd at this point.  
  • We're underway.  
  • Slick opening for Leinster after receiving the kickoff. Garry Ringrose shapes to run but makes a half break, then Jack Conan but the home side turn over possession and are almost made to pay when former Ulster wing and Fiji international Timoci Nagusa makes a sharp break.  
  • Leinster get a penalty, ran it, but the move ends in a Montpellier lineout. The home side penalised and Francois Steyn will have a crack from 45 metres. It drifts wide.  
  • Nice chip from Isa Nacewa, Rory O'Loughlin gathers, and his chip comes off Joffrey Michel.  
  • Jonathan Sexton's cross-kick is too deep but Nagusa having caught it started running without tapping it first. Leinster scrum in the visitors' 22.  
  • There are seven minutes gone. It's been lively. Leinster with most of the ball but Montpellier defence well organised.  
  • Montpellier win a scrum penalty just outside their own 22.  
  • Steyn bombs the ball into the Leinster 22, a reminder about the home side's need to be disciplined.  
  • Montpellier's maul caused Leinster huge problems in the first game in France but the home side sack this one legally.  
  • Montpellier scrum 20 metres from the Leinster line in front of the posts.  
  • The scrum will be re-set as it crabs sideways.  
  • 11 mins: Sexton with a good tackle on Steyn forces a knock on. Leinster win scrum penalty. That's one each.  
  • Leinster have won 28 out of 28 scrums on their put-in. You can keep your friend(s) amazed with that stat.  
  • Super line and break from Nacewa who races 30 metres but Montpellier win the counter-ruck or more accurately the ball squirts loose and a white shirt gobbles it up.
  • 15 mins: TRY NACEWA
  • O'Loughlin with a superb break, two carries later, Sexton throws a gorgeous long, cut-out pass to Nacewa who strills over. Great move, super finish.  
  • Sexton adds the conversion. Excellent strike.

    16 mins: Leinster 7 Montpellier 0

  • That's Isa Nacewa's sixth try in the Champions Cup this season. He's scored in all five matches.  
  • Montpellier a mile offside as Devin Toner gets the ball. Everyone spots it except referee JP Doyle and touch judge Wayne Barnes. The French side get the penalty.  
  • Steyn with a second opportunity with the placed ball.  
  • 20 mins: Steyn lands from 38 metres. That's one out of two.  

    Leinster 7 Montpellier 3

  • That's briliant from Nacewa and O'Loughlin on the double.  
  • Montpellier turn the ball over in the tackle in their 22 and hoof clear.
  • Wow, wow, wow, that's wonderful from Nacewa. Leinster run the ball back. Conan with great hands to put Nacewa clear. He chips, regathers and in one movement offloads to the supporting Conan who runs in for the try. That's just brilliant.  
  • 25 mins: Leinster 14 Montpellier 3

    Sexton drills the conversion.  

  • Sexton down, marginally late but Doyle already playing advantage for an offence at a ruck after a superb 45-metre run from Adam Byrne.
  • That's a red card for the tackle. No argument.
  • It's a high swinging arm from Steyn. They're reviewing it.  
  • It's a red under the old laws never mind the new direction.  
  • RED CARD: Steyn.  
  • Sexton has been taken off for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA).  
  • Referee JP Doyle and Wayne Barnes consulted for a long time and then Doyle made the correct decision and brandished the red. Stupid from Steyn and cheap to be honest.

    Nacewa kicks the penalty.

    27 mins: Leinster 17 Montpellier 3

  • Ross Byrne is on for Sexton. Montpellier have brought on a back Henry Immelman and taken off a flanker and captain Qera.  
  • TRY: Adam Byrne.  
  • Byrne takes a wonderful catch in the air, breaks a tackle on the touchline, links with Conan and then takes a return pass to score in the corner. Brilliant from both players. Ah sure why wouldn't Ross Byrne kick the touchline conversion.
  • 30 mins: Leinster 24 Montpellier 3
  • Sexton is back but what a last intervention from Byrne. That conversion wasa thing of beauty. Right three tries to Leinster, Montpellier down to 14-men after Steyn's sending off and the RDS is rocking.  
  • Montpellier aren't bringing the height of the tackles down either. That's another borderline effort.  
  • Fulgence Quedraogo knocks on at a lineout in the Leinster 22. The home side continue to run the ball from everywhere.  
  • It's exciting to say the least.  
  • Montpellier with their first sustained sets with the ball. Nice chip. O'LOughlin forced to concede five metre scrum.  
  • Will the French side scrum with seven or eight players?
  • Seven is the answer.  
  • Re-set. No movement. Robbie Henshaw with a brilliant hit forces the turnover. Hooker James Tracy with some dodgey kickking skills. Montpellier lineout on the 22.  
  • Leinster give away penalty at lineout. Montpellier kick to corner. Some of the crowd are thirsty by the look of it. Leinster steal another throw. Ball is sent into the stand.

    HALF-TIME: Leinster 24 Montpellier 3

  • That was a right, rivetting half of rugby, particularly for the Leinster supporters. Three tries, their opponents reduced to 14 men with Francois Steyn's red card for a late, swinging arm on Sexton, and decent defence from the home side to see out the half.  
  • Some of the rugby Leinster produced in the first half was outstanding underpinned by exceptional individual contributions from Nacewa, O'Loughlin, Byne, Sexton, Conan and Heaslip in particular.  
  • In fairness though it's been a fine collective performance and everyone has contributed. The analysis done by the coaching team has been spot on. The home side have opened up the French club defensively.  
  • I forgot to mention Robbie Henshaw. I don't know why, he's been excellent on both sides of the ball.  
  • If Leinster can win and get a fourth try, they would move to 21 points and......be the first side to qualify for this season's Champions Cup quarterfinals.  
  • They are guaranteed to win the pool in those circumstances and would then travel to Castres this day next week, hoping to earb a home quarterfinal.  
  • In the British and Irish Cup Munster A are winning 24-9 in Bandon and Ulster A are beating London Irish.  
  • Just having a chat with a French colleague, no disputing the red card.  
  • The teams should be back any second for the second half.  
  • Montpellier are back. Their coach Jake White can't have been pleased.  
  • Leinster return and they'll get this game going again.  
  • Sexton to get the game going again.
  • Rob Kearney on for Nacewa. Injury it looks like.  
  • Nacewa has been formidable as the French might say.  
  • Charles Geli and Atoine Battut on for Montpellier, the first a hooker the second a secondrow.  
  • That's the third penalty Leinster have conceded in a minute. A few handbags exchanged in the aftermath.  
  • Montpellier set up maul in the Leinster 22, muscular carries but then the homeside in the shadow of their posts force a penalty for not releasing. Sexton and Tracy get the pats.  
  • Luke McGrath has been vcery sharp and there was another example. His chip was millemtres away from being perfect after a strong carry.  
  • Leinster have been very good on the Montpellier throw.  
  • That's superb again from Byrne, wins the loose ball, gathers, finds Henshaw and as Leinster love it wide Triggs inadvertently finds a Montpellier player. Scrum to the French side eight metres from their own line.  
  • There are 10-minutes gone in the second half.  
  • Leinster penalised for wheeling the scrum.  
  • Aussie Joe Tommane has been very good for the visitors.  
  • No he's had the ball knocked from his grasp. Great tackle by........
  • Think it was Nic White.  
  • 52 mins: Cian Healy for McGrath, two prop changes for Montpellier.  Yvan Watremez and Davit Kubriashvili are on.
  • Montpellier get a scrum but three phases later concede a ruck penalty. Sexton sends it to the corner.  
  • Conan takes the lineout and then after the maul edges about six metres he pops off the back and strugs off Tommane. The Leinster man has been brilliant and that's his second try of the night, the fourth for his team and the bonus point.  

    55 mins: Leinster 31 Montpellier 3

  • Michael Bent, Richardt Strauss and Ross Byrne on for Furlong, Tracy and Sexton, the latter's last act was to add the conversion.  
  • I think that was Sexton's 50th European match (43 for Leinster and seven for Racing 92) Need to check that though. He was superb; that much can be said without fear of argument.  
  • There are 59 mins gone and Tomas O'Leary gets a warm round of applause as he comes on for Montpellier scrumhalf Nc White.  
  • Huge Leinster scrum wins a penalty. Byrne kicks in to the Montpellier 22. Galletier on for Quedraogo. Ross Molony for TRiggs, good shift from the KIwi.    
  • McGrath just hands off a defender and scampers under the posts. It's his last invovement because Jamison Gibson Park comes on. Ross Byrne kicks the conversion.  

    65 mins: Leinster 38 Montpellier 3

  • Allez Les Bleus rings around the RDS.  
  • Cross-kick from Byrne is pinpoint for O'Loughlin, two passes later and Leinster are on the Monpellier line after a great barge from Toner. Healy plunges over. That's two tries in three minutes and two conversions too as Ross Byrne knocks another one over.

    68 mins: Leinster 45 Montpellier 3

  • That's a hat-trick for Conan. Montpellier turn the ball over in their 22 and Conan with a show-and-go. Try number seven for Leinster, three in five minutes. Byrne misses the conversion.

    70 mins: Leinster 50 Montpellier 3

  • Dan Leavy is on for Robbie Henshaw
  • Well he's been on for about four minutes. It's been hard to tell you with all the tries.  
  • Leavy is on the wing and O'Loughlin is in the centre.  
  • Leinster are walking Montpellier backwards in the maul.  

    TRY: RINGROSE. Great feet and balance.  

  • Ringrose slaloms his way through a tired and beleaguered defence. Byrne converts. Eight tries and counting.  

    75 mins: Leinster 57 Montpellier 3

  • It's been tough for Montpellier playing with 14 men after Steyn's sending off but Leinster have been very good. Some super rugby and outstanding individual performances.  
  • Jack Conan is named man of the match. Thoroughly deserved, three tries were the icing on a superb display.  
  • FULL-TIME: Leinster 57 Montpellier 3
  • A rip-roaring night at the RDS as Leinster's eight try rout of a 14-man Montpellier guarantees them the pool honours and a place in the Champions Cup quarterfinals, the first club to achieve that this season. Hopefully Munster can follow tomorrow and Connacht edge closer. Ulster face a really tough ask in Sandy Park on Sunday.  
  • Leinster return to the pitch and are serenaded by a very happy RDS crowd. They're getting a standing ovatoon.  
  • Gerry Thornley is putting the final garnishes to his match report here beside me, while one place further down Gavin Cummiskey's piece in just getting some windwo dressing. You can read both on-line in about 20 minutes.  
  • People will criticise Montpellier and they deserve some but Leinster played some cracking rugby even before the numbers were lob-sided by Steyn's sending off. This was Leinster's big best, litterally against a physically imposing side, and they passed with flying colours.  
  • Right it's time to go and find out what Leo Cullen and Jake White thought of the match. Thank you very much for your company and your input. I'll be back tomorrow at lunch-time to live blog Connacht's game against Zebre (1.0) and Munster's visit to Scotstoun (5.30) to take on the Glasgow Warriors. Hopefully the news will be equally good from both venues.  
  • Apparently it's not time to go just yet. Right.  
  • Right the boys have filed their copy. Stay tune. Thanks again.