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Montpellier booked a place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter finals by beating Harlequins 42-9 with a bonus point at Altrad Stadium.
Harlequins has already qualified for the European Rugby Challenge Cup play offs so all of the match pressure was on Montpellier who delivered on the day.
Montpellier outscored Harlequins by five tries to none in the contest and their bonus point effectively knocked Cardiff Blues out of the reckoning.
French international outside half Francois Trinh Duc made a triumphant return in the final six minute to oversee Montpellier’s push for the bonus point try that clinched a quarter-final ticket. Trinh Duc had been out of action since breaking his leg on 20 November and returned for the final six minutes.
He made an immediate impact with a wonderful cut-out pass to 20-year-old centre Yvan Reilhac to put him through a hole in the Harlequins defence to crown his European debut with the bonus point try.
Replacement hooker Charles Geli then added a fifth try at the death to give Trinh Duc the chance to end the game with his second conversion in a matter of minutes. He hit the target with both kicks t goal and by the end it was a record defeat for the pool winners.
The Quins came into the game on the back of a perfect record of five bonus-point victories in a row and safe in the knowledge they had already bagged a home quarter-final. The 42-9 final scoreline represented the biggest score conceded by the Quins in the Challenge Cup, overtaking the 37 they shipped against Toulon in 2011/12, and the losing margin of 33 points was greater than the 29 by which they went down to Toulon.
All the visitors’ points came from the boot of outside half Ben Botica in the first half and they failed to score a point in the second 40 minutes. Twice he gave Quins the lead, but missed with a fourth kick at the start of the second half.
Australian full back Jesse Mogg scored the first of the home tries and Montpellier led 15-9 at the break thanks to a second try from flanker Wiann Liebenberg and a penalty and conversion from the boot of outside half Demetri Catrakilis.
Catrakilis added a second penalty in the 54th minute, but the critical moment came 12 minutes later when the Quins’ replacement No 8 Mat Luamanu became their first player this season to pick up a yellow card in Europe.
Montpellier notched a further 10 points while he was on the sidelines as Nic White dotted down the third try moments after coming onto the field and Catrakilis added the conversion and a third penalty. Then came the final, Trinh Duc induced flourish that ensured Montpellier booked their quarter-final ticket.
Final Score Montpellier 42 (15) Harlequins 9 (9)
Tries – Mogg, Liebenberg, White, Trinh-Duc, Geli,
Pen – Catrakilis (3)
Con – Catrakilis (2), Trinh-Duc (2)
Pen – Botica (3)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales),
Assistant ref: Sean Brickell (Wales),
Assistant ref: Jon Hardy (Wales),
TMO: Jonathan Mason (Wales),
Citing Commissioner: Ray Wilton (Wales)
Montpellier: Jesse Mogg; Benjamin Fall, Anthony Tuitavke, Robert Ebersohn, Marvin O’Connor; Demetri Catrakilis, Benoit Paillaugue; Mikheil Nariashvili, Bismarck Du Plessis, Jannie Du Plessis, Robins Tchale Watchou, Paul Willemse, Fulgence Ouedraogo (c), Wiaan Liebenberg, Akapusi Qera
Replacements: Charles Geli, Davit Kubriashvili, Pat Cilliers, Jacques Du Plessis, Antoine Battut, Nic White, Francois Trinh-Duc, Yvan Reilhac
Harlequins: Ross Chisholm; Marland Yarde, Matt Hopper, Harry Sloan, Charlie Walker; Ben Botica, Karl Dickson; Mark Lambert, Joe Gray, Will Collier, George Merrick, Charlie Matthews, Chris Robshaw, Luke Wallace, Jack Clifford (c)
Replacements: Rob Buchanan, Owen Evans, Adam Jones, Kieran Treadwell, Mat Luamanu, Danny Care, Tim Swiel, Winston Stanley .
With thanks to EPCRugby
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