Perpignan bring Montpellier back down to earth

Perpignan turned the tables on in-form Montpellier to grab a 28-16 victory and an attacking bonus on Friday.

It was a surprising reverse for Montpellier, who came into the match on the back of three straight wins, including a stunning 25-0 defeat of four-time European champions Toulouse last Sunday.

But they were blown away in a breathtaking opening 20-minute spell from the Catalans that reaped three tries, enough already to earn an attacking bonus.

South African scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage was the first to cross the line in the left corner after just eight minutes while two minutes later Australian No.8 Justin Puril finished off a flowing move to touch down.

Montpellier could not handle Perpignan’s expansive game and before long Algerian-born winger Sofiane Guitoune took an inside pass from fellow wideman South African Wandile Mjekevu to cross the tryline.

Montpellier trailed 20-6 at the break with only a pair of penalties from scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue to show for their efforts.

But things got worse just past the hour mark as New Caledonia-born France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina popped up on the right wing to finish off a move that started on the opposite side of the pitch.

Wales fly-half James Hook, playing at full-back, missed his third conversion attempt out of four but did land a second penalty soon after to stretch Perpignan’s lead to 28-9.

In the final 10 minutes, though, the visitors came alive and Fijian wing Timoci Nagusa crossed in the right hand corner for Montpellier’s only try of the game six minutes from time.

They could have had a second, and thus denied Perpignan the attacking bonus, while earning a defensive bonus themselves, but Hook and Guitone managed to bundle Nagusa into touch when the line appeared again to be at his mercy.

The result moved the Catalans provisionally level with Montpellier in second on the Top 14 table, one point behind European champions Toulon ahead of Saturday’s matches.

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