Heineken Cup: Montpellier 14-15 Leicester

Montpellier (0) 14

  • Tries: Selponi, Dupont
  • Cons: Escande, Paillaugue

Leicester (0) 15

  • Tries: T Youngs, Goneva
  • Con: Lamb
  • Pen: Lamb

A last-gasp Niki Goneva try and Ryan Lamb conversion gave Leicester a stunning Heineken Cup win in Montpellier and ensured they keep the pressure on Pool Five leaders Ulster.

After a scoreless first half, Leicester finally went in front through Tom Youngs's unconverted try.

Converted scores from Enzo Selponi and Lucas Dupont gave Montpellier control.

But Lamb cut the gap with a penalty and then landed the vital conversion after Goneva scored with just seconds left.

It was a remarkable end to a remarkable game, which saw both sides play with pace and ambition from the first whistle but somehow fail to score a point in the first half - only the fourth time that has happened in Heineken Cup history.

Heineken Cup Pool Five

P W L Pts

Ulster

4

4

0

18

Leicester

4

3

1

15

Montpellier

4

1

3

6

Treviso

4

0

4

0

With 79 minutes on the clock it looked as though Leicester, who travel to winless Treviso next, would head home with a solitary losing bonus point.

But victory in the south of France means they are now only three points behind Ulster, whom they welcome to Welford Road in January for what is set to be the pool decider.

The scoreless first half was not for lack of trying, with both sides happy to move the ball though the hands in dry, sunny conditions at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir, just a couple of miles from the Mediterranean coast.

Alex Tulou and Benoit Paillaugue both lost the ball in the tackle within sight of the Leicester line and when the visitors looked as though they were about to break the deadlock, Dupont picked off a pass from the under-pressure Graham Kitchener.

The interception eventually led to a penalty chance for the hosts but Paillaugue failed to hit the target, leaving it 0-0 at half-time.

Leicester had enjoyed the upper hand at the breakdown and scrum in the first half - despite the Montpellier pack having half-a-stone advantage per man - but the hosts improved after the break and it was a scrum against the head that led to their first score, though not before Tigers broke the deadlock.

They first threatened through full-back Scott Hamilton and Miles Benjamin before the Leicester wing, who had earlier been yellow-carded, came agonisingly close to scoring when he put a foot in touch in a tackle from Dupont before getting the ball down.

Lucas Dupont scores Montpellier's second try

Dupont's try had looked like giving Montpellier victory but Leicester had other ideas

Tigers finally got the scoreboard ticking over with half an hour to play. After number eight Thomas Waldrom made the initial break, it was taken on by the influential Goneva before Ben Youngs picked out brother Tom on the charge to blast over.

Toby Flood, who was soon to limp off with a hamstring injury, missed the conversion and Montpellier immediately took charge.

Their pack won a scrum against the head, number eight Tulou powered off the base and released Paillaugue, and the scrum-half sped 40m before feeding half-back partner Selponi to race over.

Paillaugue added the extras and 10 minutes later they scored what looked like being the match-winner.

The inspirational Mamuka Gorgodze erupted through a gap at the side of a ruck and timed his pass perfectly to put Dupont over under the posts, making replacement scrum-half Eric Escande's conversion a formality.

That gave the hosts a nine-point lead and although replacement Tigers fly-half Lamb slotted a penalty, the hosts seemed to have the result in the bag.

But two-time champions Leicester are renowned for their commitment and with the final whistle looming, Benjamin broke though midfield before crisp passing gave Goneva the chance to stride over out wide.

The Fijian showed his rugby intelligence by not putting the ball down despite a hefty challenge from a Montpellier defender and managed to get close enough to the posts to make Lamb's conversion attempt far easier.

The fly-half duly kept his nerve, and in the process kept Leicester's hopes of reaching the knockout stages very much alive.

Post-match reaction

Leicester Boss Richard Cockerill:

Post-match: Leicester boss Cockerill

"At 14-8 we could have been happy to take the bonus point and not risk losing it but credit to the players, they kept playing and manufacturing opportunities to score tries even if we didn't necessarily take them.

"But this was what we needed in the competition, those four points to keep the pressure on Ulster.

"This is massive for us, with another massive game in Treviso to come. We can't take anything for granted but we want to get the win there and then bring Ulster to Welford Road for a grand stand finish."

Team line-ups

Montpellier: Berard; Dupont, Tuitavake, Olivier, Artru; Selponi, Paillaugue; Watremez, Ivaldi, Mas, Tchale-Watchou, Privat, Bias, Gorgodze, Tulou.

Replacements: Floch for Berard (59), Beattie for Tuitavake (56), Escande for Paillaugue (61), Combezou for Watremez (55), T. Bianchin for Ivaldi (61), Fa'amausili for Mas (64).

Not Used: Leleimalefaga, De Marco.

Leicester: Hamilton; Morris, Goneva, Bowden, Benjamin; Flood, B Youngs; Ayerza, T Youngs, Cole, Deacon, Kitchener, Gibson, Salvi, Waldrom.

Replacements: Smith for Bowden (68), Lamb for Flood (56), Slater for Deacon (58), Crane for Waldrom (61).

Not Used: Briggs, Stankovich, Balmain, Mele.

Sin Bin: Benjamin (22).

Att: 12,500

Ref: Nigel Owens (Wales).