Union Bordeaux-Begles climbed to fifth place in the Top 14 standings on Sunday thanks to a hard-fought 27-21 victory over Montpellier.
Union Bordeaux-Begles climbed to fifth place in the Top 14 standings on Sunday thanks to a hard-fought 27-21 victory over Montpellier at Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Pierre Bernard kicked 17 points as UBB made the most of an ill-disciplined Montpellier side, the Bordeaux pack showing a steely grit at the set-piece and breakdown to deny the visitors a losing bonus point.
The turning point of a high-paced and exciting game came in the 67th minute when, with the scores level at 21-all, Montpellier wing Rene Ranger was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.
Unbeaten at home this season, Bordeaux-Begles led 18-11 at the interval thanks to tries from Fijian wing Metuisela Talebula and South African lock Jandre Marais.
Montpellier replied via a try from former French international Benjamin Fall but the visitors were made to pay for their mistakes by the accurate boot of UBB fly-half Pierre Bernard.
Fall's second try allowed Francois Trinh-Duc to lebel the scores with the conversion on the hour mark.
But two Bernard penalties in closing stages sealed the win for the hosts and denied Montpellier a losing bonus point for finishing within five in the process.
An early Benoit Paillaugue penalty handed Montpellier the lead.
But Bordeaux hit back with Talebula touching down after a neat chip gathered by second winger Blair Connor, whose awareness and turn of pace showed why he was named in Philippe Saint-Andre's extended pre-World Cup list of 10 foreigners who could potentially play for France.
The home side then suffered a blow as prop Jefferson Poirot was yellow-carded for a high tackle.
Towards the end of his 10 minutes on the sidelines, Fall, a close-season signing from Racing-Metro, pushed Montpellier back in front with a try, Paillaugue pushing the conversion wide.
The Montpellier scrum-half was on hand to kick his second penalty on the half-hour, Bernard responding.
Bernard was instrumental in Bordeaux's second try, gathering his own chip over the defence and offloading to Connor who managed to get a pass away to Marais, the giant South African lock crossing in the corner.
Bernard missed the conversion, but with the Montpellier scrum in trouble, he kicked a penalty soon after to leave the score 18-11 to the hosts.
Paillaugue pulled back three points with a penalty early in the second period, but then saw another efffort come back off the posts.
Bernard made no such mistake to restore Bordeaux's seven-point advantage.
But that did not last after Fall crossed in the corner for his second try after good build-up play by Fijian No 8 Akapusa Qera and a pinpoint pass from replacement scrum-half Jonathan Pelissie, Trinh-Duc converting to draw the scores level.
A recklessly high tackle by Ranger in front of the Montpellier posts saw the former All Black sin-binned, Bernard kicking his fourth penalty, and then adding his fifth from long distance as the Montpellier scrum imploded.
Ranger returned to the field with two minutes to play, but Bordeaux pinched an attacking line-out and held out with a series of pick-and-gos.
Tries: Talebula, Marais
Pens: Bernard 5
Yellow card: Poirot
Tries: Fall 2
Pens: Paillaugue 3
Yellow card: Ranger
Union Bordeaux Begles: 15 Romain Lonca, 14 Metuisela Talebula, 13 Julien Rey, 12 Thibault Lacroix, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Tai Tu'ifua, 7 Matthew Clarkin, 6 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Julien Ledevedec, 3 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Berend Botha, 19 Hugh Chalmers, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Sofiane Guitoune, 23 Patrick-Albert Toetu.
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Yohann Artru, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Alexandre Bias, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Thibault Privat, 4 Robins Tchale-Watchou, 3 Emiliano Coria Marchetti, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Bianchin, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Tom Donnelly, 20 Jonathan Pelissie, 21 Pierre Berard, 22 Akapusi Qera, 23 Na'ama Leleimalefaga.