Heineken Champions Cup: Round 2 Friday And Saturday Wrap-Up
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 2 Friday And Saturday Wrap-Up
Round 2 of the Heineken Champions Cup has seen the cream rise to the top, as several former champions stamped their authority on the competition.
Round 2 of the 2022 Heineken Champions Cup once again highlighted just how tough this year’s competition is going to be to win.
Several former champions once again loom large as title contenders, while the South African sides certainly have made their presence felt.
With two rounds of action under our belts, here is a breakdown of the results.
Cell C Sharks 19, Bordeaux-Begles 16
Billed as the first true acid test for the Sharks at the Heineken Champions Cup, following the Durban side’s opening-round home win over a plucky Harlequins side.
Neil Powell’s side showed it indeed has the pedigree to close out a tough fixture on the road at a hostile and wet European venue.
As for the fixture itself, it felt very much on a knife's edge from the off, with both sides bringing an immensely physical presence. In fact, it took just 10 minutes for the first boiling point.
That came when Sharks winger Werner Kok was sent to the sinbin. Having been turned over, the Sharks winger immediately went in to clear out the ruck. What followed was a move straight out of the WWE, as Kok picked up Bordeaux center Jean-Baptiste Dubié and suplexed him.
Fortunately for both Dubié and Kok, the Frenchman landed relatively safely, avoiding what could’ve been a career-altering injury.
In a fixture that saw very little between the teams in terms of quality, it was Sharks fly-half Curwin Bosch who took control. He kicked 14 points, including a 55-meter penalty kick.
Bosch, who has become somewhat of the forgotten man of SA Rugby, played with an air of confidence that at times has been missing. Still just 25-years-old, performances like this will go a long way toward getting Bosch back into the Boks setup for the first time since 2017.
Bordeaux-Begles: 15. Nans Ducuing, 14. Geoffrey Cros, 13. Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12. Federico Mori, 11. Madosh Tambwe, 10. Zack Holmes, 9. Jules Gimbert, 1. Lekso Kaulashvili, 2. Clement Maynadier, 3. Vadim Cobilas, 4. Cyril Cazeaux, 5. Jandré Marais (c), 6. Renato Giammarioli, 7. Antoine Miquel, 8. Caleb Timu.
Replacements: 16. Maxime Lamothe, 17. Ben Tameifuna, 18. Christopher Vaotoa, 19. Alban Roussel, 20. Tom Willis, 21. Santiago Cordero, 22. Matéo Garcia, 23. Rémi Lamerat
Cell C Sharks: 15. Boeta Chamberlain, 14. Werner Kok, 13. Francois Venter, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Makazola Mapimpi, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 1. Ntuthuko Mchunu, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 3. Thomas du Toit, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler, 6. Siya Kolisi (c), 7. Vincent Tshituka, 8. Phendulani Buthelezi.
Replacements: 16. Dan Jooste, 17. Dian Bleuler, 18. Hanro Jacobs, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Sikumbuzo Notshe, 21. Grant Williams, 22. Lionel Cronje, 23. Lukhanyo Am.
Leinster 57, Gloucester 0
“It is not enjoyable to lose and not enjoyable to lose in that fashion, but in the context of the group we brought, and to play a team that went to Racing and won 42-10 last week, I thought some of those young lads showed some real fighting spirit” - Gloucester Head Coach George Skivington
Gloucester head coach George Skivington perhaps provided an insight into just how this fixture would play out before a ball was even kicked in Dublin.
Making 13 changes to the side that picked up a win in Round 1, Skivington clearly valued next week’s Premiership fixture over this clash.
Could this be viewed as a compliment to Leinster that he felt his side was unlikely to emerge victorious away to the four-time champions, even with a full-strength squad? The answer is likely to be yes.
Unfortunately, clashes like this do little for the competition, as the game played out like an easy training run for Leinster, which dominated every facet of the game from the off.
Up front, both Leinster hookers Ronan Kelleher and substitute Dan Sheehan were sublime.
Kelleher, who is working his way from injury, scored a brace of tries, while Sheehan gave perhaps the offload of the season to put Jordan Lamour over. It helped Leinster bring up 50 points.
Another notable performance was that of James Lowe, who scored two tries. He continues to work his way back to match fitness following a lengthy injury layoff.
Overall, this clash was a microcosm of the issues facing the competition organizers in this new format, where teams can comfortably sacrifice a game, knowing they still can qualify for the knockout stages.
Leinster: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Jimmy O'Brien, 13. Garry Ringrose (c), 12. Charlie Ngatai, 11. James Lowe, 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Luke McGrath, 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Ronan Kelleher, 3. Michael Ala'alatoa, 4. Ross Molony, 5. James Ryan, 6. Caelan Doris, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16. Dan Sheehan, 17. Ed Byrne, 18. Cian Healy, 19. Joe McCarthy, 20. Max Deegan, 21. Jamison Gibson-Park, 22. Johnny Sexton, 23. Jordan Larmour.
Gloucester Rugby: 15. Lloyd Evans, 14. Alex Hearle, 13. Giorgi Kveseladze, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Jacob Morris, 10. George Barton, 9. Ben Meehan (c), 1. Harry Elrington, 2. Henry Walker, 3. Ciaran Knight, 4. Freddie Thomas, 5. Arthur Clark, 6. Jake Polledri, 7. Jack Clement, 8. Albert Tuisue.
Replacements: 16. Seb Blake, 17. Alex Seville, 18. Kirill Gotovtsev, 19. Alex Craig, 20. Harry Taylor, 21. Charlie Chapman, 22. Seb Atkinson, 23. Kyle Moyle.
Exeter Chiefs 44, Vodacom Bulls 14
"What was good last week was that we had a real alignment in everything we did. That's not necessarily been there all the time over the past 18 months or so, but we saw it last week, and it shows that when we have it, we're a very powerful team." - Exeter Director Of Rugby Rob Baxter
In a similar vein to Gloucester, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said he needed to be a realist, as he left his biggest stars at home ahead of a run of big derby clashes.
Thus, the die was cast, as the Chiefs battered their South African visitors from the off.
Leading the charge was the Montpellier-bound duo of Luke Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds, who both were immense against the giant Bulls pack.
Cowan-Dickie, in particular, had a very interesting battle with legendary Springboks player Bismarck Du Plessis, who at 38 years old, is a marvel and remains a high-level operator.
The two men were the anchors of their respective packs and had a number of one-on-one confrontations, both at scrum time and around the park, making for an interesting subplot.
Away from the result, White arguably will return to Pretoria content, as a number of the young Bulls players left the clash with their reputations enhanced - a point he was keen to highlight in his post-match interview.
“The youngsters I’ve got now are doing phenomenally well, but I need to blend them with a couple guys between the ages of 25 and 30,” he said.
Exeter Director of Rugby Rob Baxter will be happy to have locked up back-to-back bonus-point wins ahead of the new year and with them a very real chance of hosting a home quarterfinal, but he will remain unsure as to where his side currently stands in the grand scheme of the competition.
Exeter Chiefs: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Rory O'Loughlin, 11. Olly Woodburn, 10. Joe Simmonds, 9. Sam Maunder, 1. Scott Sio, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (c), 3. Harry Williams, 4. Dafydd Jenkins, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Christ Tshiunza, 8. Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16. Jack Yeandle, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19. Ruben van Heerden, 20. Santiago Grondona, 21. Will Becconsall, 22. Solomone Kata, 23. Josh Hodge.
Vodacom Bulls: 15. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Sibongile Novuka, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Chris B Smith, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn (c), 9. Bernard van der Linde, 1. Dylan Smith, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 3. Jacques van Rooyen, 4. Reinhardt Ludwig, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 6. Nizaam Carr, 7. Muller Uys, 8. WJ Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Lizo Gqoboka, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Cameron Hanekom, 20. Phumzile Maqondwana, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Carlton Banies, 23. Juan Mostert.
Edinburgh 31, Castres 20
"It was great! We wanted to build on what we did well against Saracens, and it was a good win for the boys. You have to pitch up physically against the French sides, and I thought we did that.” - Edinburgh Flanker Luke Crosbie
Taking this score at face value certainly could be misleading.
While Edinburgh was full value for the win, the clash very much was in the balance with five minutes to play.
Edinburgh did well to keep Castres at arm’s length for the majority of the second half but just couldn’t quite shake the visitors until Emiliano Boffelli’s penalty with four minutes to play.
Playing on the beautiful fast pitch in Edinburgh led to a brilliant spectacle from both sides, which appeared to have an agreement to play all-out-attacking rugby from the off.
Ultimately, the difference between the two sides was discipline, with Castres conceding 22 penalties, which allowed the Edinburgh to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Interestingly, however, despite the significant number of infringements, referee Tom Foley only brandished a single yellow card, which had the commentators questioning just what the limit was for a sinbin offense.
Could a second yellow card have given Edinburgh a more comprehensive victory? Perhaps, but the way Castres was playing with a sense of reckless abandonment, the hosts may have found themselves dragged into even more of a free-for-all approach.
The biggest takeaway for Edinburgh supporters would be that head coach Mike Blair clearly has his side playing a well-rounded and, at times, spectacular style of rugby, that could see them make real noise in both the Champions Cup and the United Rugby Championship.
Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Emiliano Boffelli, 14. Damien Hoyland, 13. Matt Currie, 12. James Lang, 11. Wes Goosen, 10. Blair Kinghorn, 9. Ben Vellacott, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. WP Nel, 4. Glen Young, 5. Grant Gilchrist (c), 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Luke Crosbie, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16. Tom Cruse, 17. Boan Venter, 18. Angus Williams, 19. Marshall Sykes, 20. Ben Muncaster, 21. Charlie Shiel, 22. Charlie Savala, 23. Chris Dean.
Castres Olympique: 15. Julien Dumora, 14. Martin Laveau, 13. Antoine Zeghdar, 12. Adrien Seguret, 11. Antoine Bouzerand, 10. Ben Botica, 9. Julien Blanc, 1. Quentin Walcker, 2. Pierre Colonna, 3. Aurélien Azar, 4. Gauthier Maravat, 5. Théo Hannoyer, 6. Baptiste Delaporte (c), 7. Asier Usarraga, 8. Kevin Kornath.
Replacements: 16. Brice Humbert, 17. Loîs Guérois-Galisson, 18. Antoine Guillamon, 19. Florent Vanverberghe, 20. Baptiste Cope, 21. Josaia Raisuqe, 22. Rory Kockott, 23. Thomas Larregain.
Saracens 28, Lyon 20
"It was a great result, and that's what we have got to take away from it. It is probably another performance we are going to be frustrated looking back on, but fundamentally, it is a results-based competition. So, while we are very happy with the result, we also have plenty of work to do.” - Saracens hooker Jamie George
Yet another misleading score for a clash that went down to the wire between two sides intent on having an arm wrestle.
For the neutral, this clash outside of a scintillating score set up by Saracens hooker Jamie George was an old-school European Cup tussle.
If there ever was any question about Saracens being all the way back following a discipline-enforced absence from the competition, it was firmly answered.
This was a vintage Sarries performance that would’ve looked at home in their championship-winning runs of 2015, 2016 and 2018 - not always pretty, but deadly effective, as their forward pack went to work in the tight exchanges, before their backline released some incredible strike run plays that looked like they were directly off a rugby league training ground.
Lyon, for its part, did score some brilliant tries, with a highlight being the second try from giant prop Hamza Kaabeche, who found himself in the unlikely position of being unmarked out wide.
Kaabeche had just over 20 meters to run in relatively unopposed, but like all good front rowers, he likely will tell everyone he scored from 80 meters out and beat 10 defenders along the way.
In the second half the game, things began to boil over, as Saracens captain Owen Farrell found himself at the center of a 20-player brawl.
As Farrell and several other Saracens players were involved in the incident, Lyon fly-half Fletcher Smith scampered away for a well-taken try to put his side in front.
This lead would be short-lived, as Alex Lozowski began an attack from deep inside Saracens territory that ultimately would lead to Sean Maitland scoring in the left corner.
In the buildup to the score was the ever-present Jamie George, who struck a beautiful grubber Lionel Messi would’ve been proud of, to set up Maitland.
More front rows doing special things in open spaces 🙌— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2022
Just the inch-perfect try-assist kick from @J_George2 for Sean Maitland as @saracens retake the lead 🎯#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/YJFQWk5duA
As the play was developing, George was the first player to support Lozowski. Faced with the oncoming backfield defense of Lyon, George took the decision to boot the ball forward, rather than find contact, which ultimately paid dividends.
Farrell would convert the try, which gave the visitors a cushion they would never concede, as they picked up an all-important road victory.
Lyon: 15. Alexandre Tchaptchet, 14. Xavier Mignot, 13. Thibaut Regard, 12. Tavite Veredamu, 11. Noa Nakaitaci, 10. Fletcher Smith, 9. Baptiste Couilloud, 1. Hamza Kaabèche, 2. Yanis Charcosset, 3. Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4. Felix Lambey, 5. Temo Mayanavanua, 6. Theo William, 7. Mickael Guillard, 8. Jordan Taufua (c).
Replacements: 16. Guillaume Marchand, 17. Jérôme Rey, 18. Paulo Tafili, 19. Loann Goujon, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Jonathan Pélissié, 22. Jean-Marc Doussain, 23. Alfred Parisien.
Saracens: 15. Elliot Daly, 14. Alex Lewington, 13. Alex Lozowski, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Sean Maitland, 10. Owen Farrell (c), 9. Ivan van Zyl, 1. Mako Vunipola, 2. Jamie George, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Callum Hunter-Hill, 5. Hugh Tizard, 6. Theo McFarland, 7. Ben Earl, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Tom Woolstencroft, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Alec Clarey, 19. Jackson Wray, 20. Andrew Christie, 21. Aled Davies, 22. Alex Goode, 23. Max Malins.
Leicester Tigers 23, Clermont Auvergne 16
"We allowed the game to slow down and become an arm wrestle, which is not what we wanted, but you have to hand it to our team, as they just keep fighting. I'll enjoy this win today, as it's a special club here, and I feel privileged to be part of it over the last two and a half years.” - Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick
Billed as a clash of the old school in the new era, two of European Rugby’s biggest names took to the historic Welford Road to do a battle that was straight out of the mid 2000s.
Both sides entered the clash on the back of impressive Round 1 victories, and there was an air of anticipation about how this one would play out.
Ultimately, it would be the South African presence within the Leicester side that would prove to be the difference, as the backrow duo of Jasper Wiese and Hanro Liebenberg were immense.
Wiese highlighted just why he is the current Springboks first choice in the No. 8 shirt. He barged through the Clermont defense for a scintillating individual try.
The clash, however, was a special one, primarily for the fact that it was Tiger’s legend Dan Cole’s 300th appearance for the club.
An absolute stalwart for both club and country, the now 35-year-old once again proved he has not lost a step and could still do a job for England at the Rugby World Cup.
Aiding Cole’s chances is the fact that his Tigers coach Steve Borthwick may well have coached his last game for the club before moving on to take the England coaching role that opened with Eddie Jones’ dismissal.
Cole was sublime at scrum time, an area in which England has struggled at in recent times, therefore this could be the tough tightheads calling card in his quest to add to his 95 England caps.
Dan Cole leads Leicester out, what an occasion to play your 300th game for the club 🙌@LeicesterTigers vs @ASMClermont63 live on @btsportrugby @beinsports_FR@SuperSportTV@FloRugby 🏉 pic.twitter.com/we1dGXsz2N— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2022
Reverting back to the clash itself, the Tigers will be kicking themselves that they allowed Clermont a last-minute try.
The score ensures that the Top14 side left Welford Road with an all-important losing bonus point ahead of the teams' return clash at Clermont in January.
Fighting until the end, Clermont showed just how seriously it is taking this competition, as many a French side have played dead on the road in Europe when prioritizing the Top14.
The French giants have, however, stated their ambition to reinvigorate their squad as a number of their “old guard” near retirement.
Two such building blocks will be Damian Penaud and Alex Newsome, Penaud, who is out of contract at the end of the season and certainly will be a club priority as the season continues.
Leicester Tigers: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Guy Porter, 12. Dan Kelly, 11. Harry Potter, 10. Charlie Atkinson, 9. Ben Youngs, 1. James Cronin, 2. Julian Montoya, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Ollie Chessum, 5. Calum Green, 6. Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7. Tommy Reffell, 8. Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Nephi Leatigaga, 18. Will Hurd, 19. Harry Wells, 20. Olly Cracknell, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Freddie Burns, 23. Chris Ashton.
ASM Clermont Auvergne: 15. Alex Newsome, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Cheik Tiberghien, 12. Apisai Naqalevu, 11. Bautista Delguy, 10. Anthony Belleau, 9. Sébastien Bézy, 1. Etienne Falgoux, 2. Yohan Beheregaray, 3. Davit Kubriashvili, 4. Paul Jedrasiak, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 6. Killian Tixeront, 7. Alexandre Fischer, 8. Arthur Iturria (c).
Replacements: 16. Benjamin Boudou, 17. Daniel Bibi Biziwu, 18. Rabah Slimani, 19. Miles Amatosero, 20. Thibaud Lanen, 21. Baptiste Jauneau, 22. Jules Plisson, 23. Jean-Pascal Barraque.
La Rochelle 36, Ulster 29
"The bottom line is the decision was wrong. It could have been played at Ravenhill. My personal opinion is that we were there this morning at 10 o'clock, 9.30am, and that pitch was playable.” - Ulster Director Of Rugby Dan McFarland
For anyone involved with Ulster Rugby, this clash was a disaster from start to finish, beginning with their trip down the road to play a “home” game at a supposedly empty Aviva Stadium. The move was due to their true home, the Kingspan Stadium, being deemed unplayable due to the extremely cold whether gripping the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Not only were the fans unable to attend the game, but a contingent of roughly 100 people associated with La Rochelle were in the stands, thus, making what already was not a true home advantage into a slight disadvantage.
As was the case with its severely disrupted opening-round fixture, Ulster was not at the races from the off, as La Rochelle blitzed Dan McFarland’s side for a 29- 0 halftime lead.
The second half would be significantly better, as Ulster appeared to find a new level of intensity, while La Rochelle perhaps eased up.
In the end, despite winning the second half 29-7, Ulster would lose its second successive Champions Cup clash, thus leaving the team's title ambitions hanging on by a thread.
On the flipside, the defending champions were at times mesmerizing in their style of play, as they looked a class above their hosts.
Fly-half Antoine Hastoy looks to be the real deal and looks like a player who has been rejuvenated under head coach Ronan O’Gara.
The La Rochelle pack once again was at its monstrous best, while the backline, especially Jonathan Danty and Brice Dulin, was sublime.
How much of a difference would the Kingspan factor have played into this fixture is impossible to predict. One thing is for certain, though. This La Rochelle side is the real deal and has all the hallmarks of a side capable of defending its title at the Aviva Stadium next May.
Ulster Rugby: 15. Michael Lowry, 14. Ethan McIlroy, 13. Luke Marshall, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Rob Lyttle, 10. Billy Burns, 9. John Cooney, 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Tom Stewart, 3. Marty Moore, 4. Alan O'Connor, 5. Sam Carter, 6. Iain Henderson (c), 7. Nick Timoney, 8. Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16. Rob Herring, 17. Eric O'Sullivan, 18. Gareth Milasinovich, 19. Kieran Treadwell, 20. Dave McCann, 21. Nathan Doak, 22. Stewart Moore, 23. Ben Moxham.
Stade Rochelais: 15. Brice Dulin, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. UJ Seuteni, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Pierre Boudehent, 10. Antoine Hastoy, 9. Tawera Kerr Barlow, 1. Reda Wardi, 2. Pierre Bourgarit, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Romain Sazy, 5. Will Skelton, 6. Remi Bourdeau, 7. Yoan Tanga, 8. Grégory Alldritt (c).
Replacements: 16. Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 17. Thierry Paiva, 18. Joel Sclavi, 19. Ultan Dillane, 20. Paul Boudehent, 21. Thomas Berjon, 22. Levani Botia, 23. Raymond Rhule.
DHL Stormers 34, London Irish 14
Without trying to sound like a broken record, this clash once again was one where the scoreboard does not entirely reflect the full proceedings.
Certainly, the Stormers were the better side and were deserving of the victory. That being said, a 20-point spread was flattering.
London Irish looked dead and buried at 27-7 down but would go on to score three tries, of which only one would stand.
Steering away from what could’ve been to what was, the Stormers once again highlighted why they are the reigning United Rugby Champions.
In a vacuum, this side can be summed by its backrow trio of Deon Fourie, Willie Englebrecht and Hacjivah Dayimani. The three are the prototypical ideal backrow combination, as both a collective and individuals.
Starting with Fourie, who is a nuggetty turnover machine who when he latches onto a ruck ball is nigh on impossible to budge.
Englebrecht is a long=rangy line-out operator who simply melts opposing ball carriers in the tackle area and carries the ball like a steamroller.
Dayimani is a physical freak of nature who possess the pace of a winger, the power of backrow and the vision of a center to create the ultimate No. 8.
The old one-two between the big men after a stunning @theStormers break but their second is chalked off by the TMO for a forward pass 😳— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2022
One of the greatest tries that never was? #HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/6TeRrP2hDn
These three players were the difference in this clash, as both Englebrecht and Dayimani crossed for exceptional tries, while Fourie tormented the Londoners breakdown.
This Stormers side is lethal when playing at home and will be happy to have locked down a five-point victory. The jury, however, remains out on whether they can take this form on the road in the heavy European pitches.
Last weekend’s loss away to Clermont only makes this question more pertinent.
For Declan Kidney’s London Irish, leaving without any points, while not unexpected, is somewhat of a gut punch, given the at-times brilliant rugby they played.
Despite the loss and their struggles in the Premiership, Irish has some exceptional young talent to build around and look to have the bones of a good side in the not-so-distant future.
DHL Stormers: 15. Clayton Blommetjies, 14. Angelo Davids, 13. Ruhan Nel, 12. Damian Willemse, 11. Leolin Zas, 10. Manie Libbok, 9. Paul de Wet, 1. Steven Kitshoff (c), 2. Joseph Dweba, 3. Frans Malherbe, 4. Salmaan Moerat, 5. Marvin Orie, 6. Deon Fourie, 7. Willie Engelbrecht, 8. Hacjivah Dayimani.
Replacements: 16. JJ Kotze, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Sazi Sandi, 19. Connor Evans, 20. Junior Pokomela, 21. Marcel Theunissen, 22. Herschel Jantjies, 23. Suleiman Hartzenberg.
London Irish: 15. Ben Loader, 14. Lucio Cinti Luna, 13. Luca Morisi, 12. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10. Paddy Jackson, 9. Joe Powell, 1. Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2. Mike Willemse, 3. Lovejoy Chawatama, 4. Rob Simmons, 5. Adam Coleman, 6. Matt Rogerson (c), 7. Tom Pearson, 8. Josh Basham.
Replacements: 16. Ignacio Ruiz, 17. Facundo Gigena, 18. Ollie Hoskins, 19. Api Ratuniyarawa, 20. Chandler Cunningham-South, 21. Ben White, 22. Rory Jennings , 23. Will Joseph.
Ospreys 21, Montpellier 10
"I'm pleased for the boys and supporters because there's been a lot of toil of effort, and to get the right side of the result and positivity around that, nothing reinforces that more than winning.” - Ospreys head coach Toby Booth
Without a shadow of a doubt, this was the upset of the week and it is not even close.
Montpellier is one of European Rugby’s big dogs in just about every facet, most notably, budget.
Ospreys are in flux, as is the rest of Welsh Rugby, yet despite this disparity, the Ospreys dominated their hosts from the off and were head and shoulders above their fancied opponents in every area.
This result almost certainly was the Ospreys biggest win of the past five years, and the manner in which they completed it was the most pleasing.
Going down to 14 men early, as Luke Morgan was shown a yellow card for an awkward challenge on Montpellier No. 8 Zach Mercer, who was in the air at the time.
Despite this, the Ospreys held on brilliantly and took on their bigger French opponents at the close-quarter exchanges.
In fact, the Welsh side didn’t just compete they dominated, as they regularly sacked the Montpellier mauling game, therefore killing off their biggest weapon.
For the hosts, they shockingly didn’t fire a shot, and has historically been the case with French sides, looked rather disinterested at times.
This certainly will disappoint Montpellier fans, as this squad is packed with quality, especially in the back line, with players such as Paolo Garbisi, George Bridge, Louis Carbonel and Cobus Reinach all being high-level international players in recent times.
Yet the platform was not set by the forward pack, therefore leading to incredibly slow ball, which the Ospreys found easy to deal with.
Still, Montpellier remains in the hunt for a playoff position, thanks to an opening-round bonus-point victory.
With both sides now sitting on five log points, the reverse fixture in Swansea becomes one of the hottest contests to look forward to in round three.
Montpellier: 15. Anthony Bouthier (c), 14. Ben Lam, 13. Thomas Darmon, 12. Paolo Garbisi, 11. George Bridge, 10. Louis Carbonel, 9. Cobus Reinach, 1. Enzo Forletta, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Henry Thomas, 4. Florian Verhaeghe, 5. Bastien Chalureau, 6. Clement Doumenc, 7. Alexandre Becognee, 8. Zach Mercer.
Replacements: 16. Curtis Langdon, 17. Grégory Fichten, 18. George Tuinukuafe, 19. Marco Tauleigne, 20. Leo Coly, 21. Julien Tisseron, 22. Masivesi Dakuwaqa, 23. Paul Willemse.
Ospreys: 15. Max Nagy, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. Mike Collins, 12. Kieran Williams, 11. Luke Morgan, 10. Owen Williams, 9. Rhys Webb, 1. Gareth Thomas, 2. Sam Parry, 3. Tom Botha, 4. Rhys Davies, 5. Adam Beard, 6. Ethan Roots, 7. Justin Tipuric (c), 8. Morgan Morris.
Replacements: 16. Scott Baldwin, 17. Nicky Smith, 18. Tom Francis, 19. Huw Sutton, 20. Jac Morgan, 21. Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22. Jack Walsh, 23. Joe Hawkins.
Written by Philip Bendon
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