Heineken Champions Cup: Connacht fall to narrow 35-29 defeat by Montpellier
|European Champions Cup Pool 5|
|Montpellier (21) 35|
|Tries: Chilachava, Ngandebe 2, Reilhac 2 Cons: Pollard 5|
|Connacht (21) 29|
|Tries: Healy, Porch, Marmion, Godwin Cons: Carty 3 Pen: Carty|
Connacht lost out to a late Yvan Reilhac try as Montpellier edged a pulsating European Champions Cup dead rubber in France.
The hosts raced into a 21-0 lead inside half an hour through a Levan Chilachava try and two from Gabriel Ngandebe.
However three scores in seven minutes from Matt Healy, John Porch and Kieran Marmion draw level at the break.
Kyle Godwin and a Jack Carty penalty pushed Connacht ahead but a pair of Reilhac tries sealed Montpellier's win.
With both sides already out of contention for a quarter-final berth, only pride was at stake as the sides on Sunday.
It looked like Montpellier would stroll to a comfortable win after Chilachiva's close-range try in the third minute was followed by two Ngandebe scores.
Connacht's defence, particularly for Ngandebe's first try, was suspect and the visitors looked well off the boil.
However Healy's try from Godwin's lovely long pass ignited the province to life, and when Porch showed wonderful balance to finish in the corner two minutes later, it was game on.
Scrum-half Marmion, playing for the first time since November, completed a remarkably quick comeback as he profited from Bundee Aki's one-handed offload to score.
Connacht picked up where they left off after the interval as Godwin darted through a gap to put his side ahead for the first time after 46 minutes.
However with their backs to the wall, Montpellier rallied with Reilhac capitalising on Healy's slip to put his side ahead before he crossed in the corner with three minutes remaining to seal a highly entertaining win.
Montpellier: Goosen, Ngandebe, Vincent, Serfontein, Reilhac, Pollard, Paillaugue; Tcheisvhili, B Du Plessis, Chilachava, Willemse, Van Rensburg, Galletier (capt), Camara, Jaques Du Plessis.
Replacements: Giudicelli, Nariashvili, Haouas, Ouedraogo, Fotualli, Bouthier, Darmon, Mikautadze.
Connacht: O'Halloran, Porch, Godwin, Aki, Healy, Carty, Marmion: McAllister, Heffernan, Robertson McCoy, Maksymiw, Thornbury, Masterson, Fainga'a, Butler (capt).
Replacements: Murphy, Buckley, Kenny, Murray, McKeon, Blade, Fitzgerald, Daly.