Bath claimed their first win of the Heineken Cup season with a hard-fought 16-13 victory over Montpellier at the Rec on Sunday.
Bath were made to work extremely hard to claim their first win of the Heineken Cup season with a 16-13 victory over Montpellier at the Rec.
Bath held a ten-point lead at half time thanks to two tries set up by former All Black pivot Stephen Donald, who was making his first start for the home side.
But a dominant second half performance from the visitors meant that the result was in the balance right up to the final whistle.
The result leaves defending champions Leinster alone at the top of Pool Three, two points clear of Bath. A losing bonus point means Montpellier are still very much in touch after holding Leinster to a draw last week.
Bath were on the scoreboard first when Donald landed an easy penalty and it was the World Cup winner's long pass over the top to Olly Woodburn that created the opening try after just eight minutes as the wing raced into the corner.
Donald was at the origin to Bath's next try too when he intercepted and then bolted 80 metres only to pulled down just short of the try-line. Despite Montpellier trying to kill it, the ball was recycled for prop David Flatman to cross untouched. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc was sent to the sin-bin for his efforts to prevent the try.
Montpellier progressively worked their way back into the game and, although they were still a man down, les Heraultais opened their account just before the half-hour mark when Martin Bustos Moyano found the target with a long-range effort to make the score 13-3.
The Argentine wing missed two further attempts at goal at the end of the half meaning the scores remained unchanged as the teams headed for the changing rooms.
A hand injury early in the second half did not prevent Donald from restoring the 13-point lead from the kicking tee after Montpellier were penalised for not releasing.
But the French side's reply wasn't long in coming and they were right back in the game when Thibaut Privat found Bustos Moyano flying down the touchline. There were suggestions that the pass might have been a smidgeon forward but there was no doubt about the finish, nor the conversion from the touchline.
Bustos Moyano found the mark yet again with a wonderful penalty kick from out wide to narrow the gap to just three points with nearly half an hour left to play.
But there would be no further scoring despite extended periods of pressure from the visitors, who destroyed the Bath scrum on a handful of occasions.
Bath can breath a sigh of relief, they are still alive in the Heineken Cup.
Tries: Woodburn, Flatman
Pens: Donald 2
Try: Bustos Moyano
Con: Bustos Moyano
Pens: Bustos Moyano 2
Yellow card: Trinh-Duc (Montpellier – 19th min – professional foul)
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Sam Vesty, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Mark Lilley, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Olly Barkley, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Montpellier:15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Martin Bustos Moyano, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 J-B Peyras Loustalet, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 Mamuka Gorgodze, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 RÃ©my Martin, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Joe Tuineau, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Rassie van vuuren, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 George Jgenti, 19 Drickus Hancke, 20 Masi Matadigo, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Santiago Fernandez, 23 Yoan Audrin,
Venue: Recreation Ground
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)