European Champions Cup: Montpellier 45-8 Newcastle Falcons

Montpellier's Paul Willemse scores a try
South-African born lock Paul Willemse was called up to France's Six Nations squad on Thursday
European Champions Cup - Pool Five
Montpellier (12) 45
Tries: Nagusa, Reilhac, Willemse, Immelman 2, Janse van Rensburg, Ruffenach Cons: Pienaar 4, Paillaugue
Newcastle (3) 8
Try: Kibirige Pen: Flood

Newcastle are out of the Champions Cup after losing to Montpellier - their sixth successive defeat in all competitions.

Montpellier claimed a bonus point after scoring seven tries, while Zach Kibirige crossed for Newcastle's only try.

Falcons, currently bottom of the Premiership table, will finish no higher than third in Pool Five.

Montpellier are second in the pool and face top side Edinburgh on Friday.

Pool Five
PlayedWonPoints
1. Edinburgh5419
2. Montpellier5316
3. Newcastle528
4. Toulon516

Newcastle's struggles continue

Playing a French side away is never easy, but this defeat is a further blow to Newcastle's confidence.

Dean Richards' side's last win was against Northampton at the beginning of December and the return of fly-half Toby Flood was not enough to turn their fortunes around.

Both teams struggled in the first 10 minutes, with players slipping as a result of the poor pitch and bright sunshine making life difficult under the high ball.

But after a break from former South Africa fly-half Johan Goosen, Montpellier worked enough space to send wing Timoci Nagusa in to score.

Newcastle then rallied defensively despite Montpellier working through phases five metres from the tryline, but Goosen eventually sent centre Yvan Reilhac over.

The momentum shifted further from Falcons after half-time as substitute lock Paul Willemse, called up this week to France's Six Nations squad, barrelled over for Montpellier's third try.

Wing Henry Immelman scored twice to maintain his record of crossing in every Champions Cup game in which he has appeared this season and Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Romain Ruffenach added to Newcastle's misery.

Kibirige chased a chip through to claim a try for Falcons, who face Toulon in the final round of the pool stage.

Montpellier will qualify for the quarter-finals if they defeat Edinburgh, but could still progress as runners-up if they lose.

What they said

Newcastle director of rugby Richards:

"Montpellier have a huge number of world-class players. You've got to be on your mettle to beat them and we weren't quite there.

"We had a more experienced side out when we played Montpellier in Newcastle and, dare I say it, I don't think we're used to playing in the sun either."

Newcastle captain Flood:

"As strange as it may sound there are a lot of young lads in our dressing room who will take a real leap forward in their development for having gone through this experience.

"No-one likes losing by 40-odd points and we wanted to come here and win, but the reality is if you don't learn from the hard times, then you never learn. You just have to take it, wear it, and understand what you can do to avoid it in the future."

Line-ups

Newcastle: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Arscott; Flood (captain), Takulua; Brocklebank, Cooper, Davison, Witty, Young, Graham, Hardie, Burrows

Replacements: Green for Young (40), Mavinga for Brocklebank (40), Kibirige for Hammersley (47), Young for Takulua (57), Connon for Matavesi (61), Socino for Cooper (64), Payne for Davison (65).

Not used: Chick

Montpellier: Steyn; Nagusa, Vincent, Reilhac, Immelman; Goosen, Pienaar; Fichten, Giudicelli, Du Plessis, Van Rensburg, Mikautadze, Galletier, Kornath, Picamoles (captain).

Replacements: Serfontein for Vincent (40), Chilachava for Du Plessis (40), Willemse for Mikautadze (40), Ouedraogo for Kornath (46), Ruffenach for Giudicelli (56), Tcheishvili for Fichten (59), Giudicelli for Galletier (61), Paillaugue for Pienaar (65), Martin for Goosen (69)

Sin-bin: Ruffenach (61)

Ref: Marius Mitrea (Ita)

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