Montpellier still alive as Nadolo shines

Date published: January 20 2017

Montpellier pulled off a bonus-point win over Northampton Saints, keeping their Champions Cup hopes alive with a 26-17 victory.

Kélian Galletier's excellently worked try gave the French outfit a 7-0 lead but Northampton responded and were ahead by the interval. Lee Dickson levelled matters before JJ Hanrahan kicked a penalty as the visitors went three points in front.

However, the Saints were overpowered in the second period and Montpellier secured the necessary bonus-point through Nemani Nadolo (twice) and Jacques Du Plessis touchdowns.

The Midlanders had the final word when Tom Kessell went over but the hosts were too strong.

With qualification still possible, Jake White selected a strong team and they started well, taking a 7-0 advantage after just 10 minutes. Gargantuan wing Nadolo began the match brightly and it was his brilliance which gave Galletier an easy run to the line.

Despite that setback, a weakened Saints were spirited and got back into the contest when Ethan Waller's surge and offload got them on the front foot. Ben Nutley took the English side to within inches of the line and, with the opposition rearguard under pressure, Dickson touched down.

Hanrahan kicked Northampton into the lead just shy of the interval and they opened the second period strongly. Ahsee Tuala set off on a powerful run and appeared to have sent George North over but the TMO ruled that the full-back was in touch.

That proved costly as Nadolo then brilliantly barrelled through several defenders to score before Montpellier secured their third try via Du Plessis.

All the hosts required was the bonus-point and it eventually came via Nadolo's powerful surge.

Although Kessell crossed the whitewash for a consolation try, White's men went away with a win that gives them a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

The scorers:

For Montpellier:
Tries: Galletier, Nadolo 2, Jacques du Plessis
Cons: Catrakilis 3

For Northampton:
Tries: Dickson, Kessell
Cons: Hanrahan 2
Pen: Hanrahan

Montpellier: 15 Joffrey Michel, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Joseph Tomane, 12 Alexandre Dumoulin, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic White, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Kélian Galletier, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Charles Geli, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Antoine Guillamon, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Antoine Battut, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Henry Immelman, 23 Vincent Martin

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Juan Pablo Estelles, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 George North, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 James Craig, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Mike Haywood, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 James Wilson, 23 Ken Pisi

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Dermot Blake (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)