Sunday 22 July 2018

Exeter blitz Montpellier to keep their knockout hopes alive

Champions Cup Round-up

Exeter Chiefs Olly Woodburn scored two tries against Montpellier at Sandy Park. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA
Exeter Chiefs Olly Woodburn scored two tries against Montpellier at Sandy Park. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Sportsdesk

Olly Woodburn scored two tries as Exeter kept their European Champions Cup hopes alive with a crushing 41-10 bonus-point win over Montpellier at Sandy Park.

The win moved Exeter one point ahead of Montpellier in Pool Three but they are still five points behind leaders Leinster, who play their game in hand at home to winless Glasgow today. Dave Ewers, Sam Simmonds, Don Armand and Nic White were Exeter's other try-scorers with Gareth Steenson adding three conversions and Joe Simmonds one - he also kicked a last-minute penalty.

Montpellier, the Top 14 leaders, were hugely disappointing with their forwards being comfortably outmuscled by a dominant home pack. Their only points came from a try by Nemani Nadolo and a penalty and a conversion from Aaron Cruden.

James Haskell was sent off for a dangerous tackle as Wasps collapsed to a dramatic 33-28 defeat by Harlequins that all but ends their European Champions Cup quest.

Haskell flattened Jamie Roberts with a shoulder-high challenge in the 76th minute that was also late, receiving a straight red card from referee Roman Poite and ending the groggy Wales centre's afternoon.

The England flanker faces a suspension that could affect his availability for the Six Nations, but his more immediate concern will be Wasps' implosion at Twickenham Stoop.

Leading 21-0 after 30 minutes, they leaked a succession of tries, grabbed the bonus point, before falling apart once again as touchdowns from Danny Care, Elia Elia and James Chisholm completed a remarkable fightback by Quins.

Harlequins' interest in Europe was extinguished long ago - they had lost all four previous matches of this season's group phase - but a team weakened by injury and suspension fought to the end and were rewarded.

Northampton secured back-to-back wins in all competitions for the first time since September as they inflicted a first Champions Cup defeat of the season on Clermont Auvergne.

Saints - already out of Europe following four straight reversals - ran in five tries courtesy of Teimana Harrison, Nafi Tuitavake, Ben Foden, Ken Pisi and Cobus Reinach in a 34-21 victory at a buzzing Franklin's Gardens.

The loss for Clermont, last season's runners-up, also means they must wait until next weekend to secure qualification for the knockout stages.

It had been plain sailing for Clermont in this competition to date with four wins from four putting them in pole position to reach the last eight for another year.

But despite an early effort from Remy Grosso and an Isaia Toeava try, plus the boot of France international Morgan Parra, Clermont were still unable to return to winning ways.

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