Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors’ Challenge Cup campaign was ended in agonising fashion this evening, as Montpellier emerged victorious by 26-21 in a hard-fought clash at GGL Stadium.

Adam Hastings and Ross Thompson combined for all of Glasgow’s points from the tee, as the visitors ultimately came up just short at the home of the French heavyweights.

Well aware of opening the match on the front foot, Danny Wilson’s men could hardly have scripted a better start under the GGL Stadium floodlights. An over-eager Montpellier chase was penalised for offside by referee Karl Dickson, allowing Hastings to open the scoring with a penalty just 70 seconds into the match.

The early score set the tone for a frenetic opening stanza, as both teams looked to spark attacks from deep. Huw Jones was looking especially lively in a Glasgow shirt, as the full-back routinely broke the Montpellier defensive line as he returned searching kicks from the hosts.

Montpellier, too, were looking to show their skills with ball in hand, and were rewarded with their first points on 13 minutes. A counter-attack sparked by Anthony Bouthier saw a number of Montpellier hands keep the ball alive, before Alex Lozowski punished a Glasgow indiscretion with a simple kick to level the scores at 3-3.

Straight from the restart, the Warriors restored their advantage. A stolen lineout allowed Fotu Lokotui to charge into Montpellier’s defensive live, with the French outfit too slow to roll away for the referee’s liking. Hastings was on target from the tee, giving the visitors a 6-3 lead.

Back came Montpellier once more, with a Yacouba Camara turnover providing Lozowski with another chance to level the scores. Having missed a penalty just moments before from an angled shot from 35m, the Englishman made no mistake from an easier attempt to tie the match once more.

An end-to-end affair swung the way of the Warriors once again on 27 minutes; good work from the Glasgow defence forced an error from their hosts, before Rufus McLean sent Nick Grigg racing into the Montpellier 22. The home side’s scramble defence denied the centre at the expense of a penalty, from which Hastings added three more points to take himelf past 400 for the club, and to take the Warriors back into the lead.

For all the attacking intent shown, spectators were made to wait until the half-hour mark for the first real try-scoring opportunity. It came from the hosts, as Cobus Reinach’s grubber kick sparked a foot race between Ali Price and Johan Goosen. The Montpellier winger got fingertips to the ball before Price dragged him to floor, with the TMO ruling in favour of Glasgow and awarding a scrum to the visitors rather than a penalty try.

The home side were not to be denied their opening score, however, striking with the final play of the half. A five-metre lineout from Guilhem Guirado was reeled in by Nico Janse van Rensburg, before Guirado himself peeled away to barrel over despite the attention of Sam Johnson. Lozowski converted, handing the hosts a 13-9 lead at the break.

To compound Glasgow’s pain, Montpellier were the first to trouble the scorers in the second half to boot. Good work from Lozowski and Arthur Vincent freed Vincent Rattez in the wide channels with the winger left with a simple draw-and-give to send Bouthier over for the score. Lozowski’s conversion left the score at 20-9, and left Glasgow chasing the game.

The Warriors came back fighting, with Fraser Brown’s work at the breakdown earning a penalty dispatched to the corner by Hastings. From a following penalty, Brown thought he’d burrowed over from a quick tap, only for the TMO to rule that the hooker had lost control in a borderline call. However, with Montpellier infringing in the process, Bastian Chalureau was sent to the sin-bin to hand Glasgow the man advantage.

A fourth penalty from Hastings narrowed the gap to eight points on 54 minutes, yet the Warriors comeback effort was dealt a hefty blow just moments later. A head-high shot from TJ Ioane resulted in the Samoan receiving a red card from referee Dickson, Lozowski’s resulting penalty restoring Montpellier’s eight-point advantage.

Glasgow still refused to go quietly, though. A break from Nick Grigg found the ever-willing George Horne – on for Price – on his shoulder, and when the scrum-half was felled by a high tackle Hastings narrowed the gap to 23-15.

That deficit was cut yet further with 10 minutes remaining, as Florian Verhaeghe’s no-arms tackle was punished by replacement Thompson. Despite Lozowski responding in kind moments later, an off-the-ball dump tackle by Martin Devergie on George Turner presented Thompson with a chance to set up a grandstand finish with seven minutes to play. The fly-half nervelessly slotted a penalty from 45 metres on the angle, leaving the score at 26-21 to the hosts.

In a game of few chances, the closing stages nearly yielded the ultimate last-gasp drama from the visitors. Thompson’s cross-kick agonisingly bounced the wrong way for a chasing Lee Jones, with Montpellier’s counter-attack almost putting the game to bed.

There was still time for a final Glasgow attack, as Horne and Thompson roused the troops for a final assault. Instead, though, it was Alex Becognee who produced the game-winning intervention, turning the ball over and booting to touch to bring the curtain down on Glasgow’s European campaign.

live commentary 8:00 PM Friday 2 Apr 2021

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Kick-off 8:00 PM

Montpellier

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