Montpellier stayed in the hunt for a Heineken Cup quarter-final berth with a 27-6 victory over Sale at Salford City Stadium on Friday.
Montpellier stayed in the hunt for a Heineken Cup quarter-final berth with a 27-6 victory over Sale Sharks at Salford City Stadium on Friday.
Montpellier will now face Toulon next week in the fight to top Pool Six
Scotsman Johnnie Beattie was awarded Man of the Match, scoring his side's second try of the night, and playing a starring role at the back of what proved to be a dominant scrum.
Sale had no answer to the French scrummaging, and were in for a hard night from the first clash of the game, as Montpellier drove forward deep into the Sale half.
The first try of the night came for Yohann Artru, taking advantage in his position as the extra man on the wing, skipping over to put down between the posts ten minutes in.
Benoit Pailaugue added the extras, making amends for an earlier penalty miss.
Danny Cipriani was the man who made ground for the Sharks, with good place kicks to touch, ensuring Montpellier had to stay alert at the line-out. The fly-half reduced the deficit with a penalty goal after quarter of an hour, but the French outfit added their second of the game, as Beattie worked his way over the line, charging through the last line of defence.
Cipriani kept Sale in the game going in to the half-time break with his second penalty of the night, and at 6-12, Montpellier could have felt that their play deserved a wider margin at that point.
Opening the second period, Montpellier kept up the pressure in the scrum and the mauls, and earned several penalties from Sale indiscretions in those areas.
Pailaugue added a penalty after several scrums had worked their way to within kicking distance, while only two minutes later, full-back Pierre Berard scored the third try of the evening. That came at the end of a great move starting with Santiago Fernandez breaking over half-way, laying off to powerful winger Timoci Nagasu, who made the final pass to Berard.
Montpellier chased the bonus point try in the final period, and could have had it with five minutes remaining, but Santiago Fernandez was guilty of spilling the ball as he raced over the line.
His forwards finished what he couldn't, and after two charges where Beattie was held up, they earned a penalty try in the final minute, with replacement scrum-half Eric Escande adding the final conversion.
For Sale Sharks:
Pens: Cipriani 2
Tries: Artru, Beattie, Berard, Penalty try
Cons: Paillaugue, Escande
Sale Sharks: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Mark Cueto, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Doyle, 5 Tom Holmes, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Aston Croall.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Tony Buckley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Tommy Taylor, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Jordan Davies.
Montpellier: 15 Pierre BÃ©rard, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Yohann Artru, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Aliki Fakate, 4 Mickael Demarco, 3 Maximiliano Bustos, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Rassie van Vuuren, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Barry Fa'amausili, 19 RÃ©my Martin, 20 Alexandre Bias, 21 Eric Escande, 22 Paul Bosch, 23 Lucas Amorosino.
Venue: Salford City Stadium
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
Timekeeper: Mike Hamlin (England)
Citing commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (Wales)
Assessor: Andy Clift (Scotland)