Montpellier end Toulon's hopes

04th Dec 2008, 21:48

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Toulon succumbed to their third European Challenge Cup defeat from three matches on Thursday, going down 14-10 at Montpellier and effectively ending their campaign.

Toulon succumbed to their third European Challenge Cup defeat from three matches on Thursday, going down 14-10 at Montpellier and effectively ending their campaign.

In a match that rarely rose above insipid, it took Montpellier far longer than it should have to build up a lead, with South Africa Jacques Schutte guilty of missing three shots at goal before one did eventually creep over on the stroke of half-time.

Montpellier's best efforts were undone by a glut of errors, potential scoring passes far too frequently going to ground. The Tomas brothers at half-back fed good clean ball to the centres, who got the team onto the front foot time and time again.

Toulon's defence held up well though, with the players stringing themselves well across the park and snuffing out any moves that did get to the wing. Their scrum was less stable than it should have been, but Montpellier's pack lacked snarl to make it count.

Eventually it was the visitors who got themselves onto the scoreboard first, with Ramiro Pez stroking over a kick after 20 minutes for a 3-0 lead.

Montpellier made the breakthrough after 26 minutes, with Rickus Lubbe and Grant Rees driving the ball up the middle to 5m out, and Schutte picking and going from the base of the ruck for a simple try which he failed to convert.

Toulon were much brighter in the second half, and took the lead once more after 46 minutes with their try.

Montpellier, clearly frustrated by the resurgence in the Toulon pack, resorted to kicking as a tactic, but Julien Tomas, normally a scrum-half, was found wanting with the boot.

Pez missed another pop at goal as his pack drove the hosts off the ball and took the ball onwards several times.

Montpellier's Georgian number eight Mamuka Gorgodze turned the tide, taking the ball on a glorious rampaging run up the right, and sparking a heavy spell of pressure.

The insertion of Frikkie Welsh off the Montpellier bench also provided a creative spark, but still the blue backs could not find a way through the red wall, which held its discipline far better in the second half.

That was until flanker Olivier Missoup interfered with Tomas' ruck ball near the half-way line - lucky not to earn a yellow card in the process - and Olivier Sarramea stroked over a majestic penalty to give the home side the lead with eight minutes to go.

Sarramea extended the lead to four with another penalty three minutes from time after flanker Jocelino Suta was caught offside at a kick, and sealed the deal for the home side.

The scorers:

For Montpellier:
Try:
Schutte
Pens: Schutte, Sarramea 2

For Toulon:
Try:
Imbert
Con: Pez
Pen: Pez

Montpellier: 15 Olivier Sarraméa, 14 Jacques Boussuge, 13 Rickus Lubbe, 12 Grant Rees, 11 Jaques Schutte, 10 Julien Tomas (c), 9 Adrien Tomas, 8 Mamuka Gorgodze, 7 Didier Chouchan, 6 Vassili Bost, 5 Benjamin Goze, 4 Goncalo Uva, 3 Clément Baïocco, 2 Fabien Rofes, 1 Eugène Van Staden.
Replacements: 16 Bruce Douglas, 17 Pieter Van Niekerk, 18 Drickus Hancke, 19 Joan Caudullo, 20 Jean-Matthieu Alcalde, 21 Frikkie Welsh, 22 Sébastien Kuzbik.

Toulon: 15 Damien Vidal, 14 Clement Imbert, 13 Olivier Grimaud, 12 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11 Luke Rooney, 10 Ramiro Pez, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Fotunuupule Auelua, 7 Olivier Missoup, 6 Jocelino Suta, 5 Esteban Lozada (c), 4 César Delarue, 3 Jérome Filitoga, 2 Anthony Muleta, 1 Davit Kubriashvili.
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Ribes, 17 Benjamin Basteres, 18 Soane Toevalu, 19 Cedric Beal, 20 Tusiata Pisi, 21 Mafileo Kefu, 22 Norman Jordaan.

Referee: Rob Debney (England)