Challenge Cup glory for Montpellier

Date published: May 13 2016

Two tries from Jesse Mogg helped Montpellier to a deserved 26-19 victory over Harlequins in the Challenge Cup Final in Lyon on Friday.

Mogg, who came on as a first-half replacement, scored a try in each half which gave Montpellier their first ever triumph in a European final since they were established in 1986.

A superb performance from Montpellier's pack laid the foundation to this victory and the role of their fly-half Demetri Catrakilis must not be underestimated as he contributed 16 points via two conversions and four penalties.

Harlequins were under the cosh for large periods which meant they had to play catch-up for most of the game and they could only cross for one try, scored late in the match by Marlande Yarde.

The fixture was overshadowed by the news of young Harlequins prop Seb Adeniran-Olule's death in a car accident earlier this week and an immaculate moment of silence was observed by both teams and spectators before kick-off.

Nick Evans gave Harlequins the lead via a penalty in the fourth minute but Catrakilis restored parity, with a three-pointer of his own from the kicking tee, shortly afterwards after Quins were blown up for a scrum infringement.

Montpellier survived a scare in the 12th minute when an Evans penalty attempt struck an upright and Joe Gray was penalised for playing the ball from an offside position inside the French side's 22 after intercepting a wayward Akapusi Qera pass.

The Top 14 outfit were dealt a blow when Benjamin Fall was forced off with a hamstring injury in the 18th minute but this proved to be a blessing in disguise as Mogg scored with his first touch of the ball five minutes later.

This after Paul Willemse set up the score with a fine run up the middle, from a line-out close to the halfway mark. The ball was recycled quickly to Frans Steyn, who threw a long pass to Marvin O'Connor close to the touchline.

O'Connor did well to draw in a couple of defenders before offloading to Anthony Tuitavke, who delivered a well-timed pass to the on-rushing Mogg, who got over in the left-hand corner. 

Gray and Chris Robshaw then collapsed a maul illegally and Catrakilis punished that indiscretion with another three-pointer from the kicking tee, although Harlequins managed to narrow the gap with two penalties of their own in the half's closing stages which meant the match was still evenly poised at 13-9 to Montpellier at the interval.

Benoît Paillaugue replaced Nic White at half-time and the French scrum-half's introduction had the desired effect for Jake White's troops as eight minutes into the half he launched a high ball behind Harlequins' try-line which Mogg gathered brilliantly, from under the nose of Jamie Roberts, before dotting down.

Catrakilis added the extras which meant Harlequins had to score twice if they wanted to take the lead. Although they tried gallantly to haul in their opponents, they continued to concede penalties and when it was within goalkicking range Catrakilis made them pay.

The South African did just that, with two penalties in quick succession, which meant Montpellier were cruising with the score at 26-9 on the hour-mark.

To their credit Quins continued to attack and were rewarded when Yarde pounced on a mistake in defence from Robert Ebersohn, close to his tryline, to score the try which gave his side hope.

Ben Botica slotted the conversion and added a penalty in the 77th minute which meant a converted try by the English side would send the game into extra-time, but it wasn't to be as a solid defensive effort – and a bizarre decision by Botica to hand over possession by booting the ball into his opponents' 22 in injury time – secured the win for Montpellier in the dying moments.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Con: Botica
Pens: Evans 3, Botica

For Montpellier:
Tries: Mogg 2
Cons: Catrakilis 2
Pens: Catrakilis 4

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Mat Luamanu, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm

Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavke, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Marvin O’Connor, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic White, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Benoît Paillaugue, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Jesse Mogg

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)