2022 Ospreys Rugby vs Montpellier Herault Rugby

Ospreys Pull Off Miracle Double Over Montpellier

Ospreys Pull Off Miracle Double Over Montpellier

Ospreys pulled off a minor miracle by beating Montpellier for the second time this season, boosting its chances of reaching the Champions Cup knockouts.

Jan 16, 2023 by RugbyPass
Ospreys Pull Off Miracle Double Over Montpellier

Ospreys pulled off a minor miracle by beating Montpellier on Saturday for the second straight time this season, significantly boosting its chances of reaching the Champions Cup knockouts.

The Welsh province arrived with fire in its eyes and walked away content after an entertaining 35-29 victory in Swansea.

Two tries from Alex Cuthbert and a composed kicking display from Cai Evans - who scored 15 off the boot - helped Ospreys overcome its French counterparts for a second successive time this campaign, following a 21-10 win in mid-December.

Since that win in France, the men in black have strung together a run of impressive performances, reviving a season that previously had looked bleak and void of promise.

After showing signs of competitive edge in the United Rugby Championship last season, Ospreys began this year in horrible fashion, languishing near the bottom of the table and struggling to swing results in its own favor.

However, since beating Montpellier the first time around, Toby Booth’s side has enjoyed a fruitful Christmas period, dismantling the Scarlets, before clinching a win over Cardiff in the final minutes of play.

They did then suffer a loss to Leinster, but so too has everyone who has faced the unbeaten league leaders. What matters more is the double over Montpellier, which sits sixth in the Top 14, and back-to-back wins over provincial rivals.

Yet, there still is a lot left for the Welsh outfit to do. 

Ospreys is fourth in Pool B of the Champions Cup, trailing behind the Leicester Tigers, whom they will face in the final group-stage game next weekend.

Win that, and Ospreys will stride into the last 16. But even with a loss, the squad still may qualify. 

Inevitably, the Ospreys players will prefer to have the fate in their own hands. Replicating their performance against Montpellier is the surest way to do so.

They took to the field brandishing their European rainbow jersey and started on the front foot, getting the first points on the board.

The opening try came from a simple pick-and-go within reach of the Montpellier line, but the scorer was Cuthbert, an unlikely source for what so often is associated with forwards, but he was an effective carrier of the ball, nonetheless.

Opposing captain Paul Willemse wasted no time jabbing back, collecting an inside layoff, before bulldozing through tacklers to dive over the line.

He doubled his tally before the break, powering over to finish a well-worked strike move from a lineout.

Soon after, Ospreys enjoyed large swathes of territorial control but did not to translate that into tries. Instead, they settled for penalties, which gave them a slender lead, until lock Bastien Chalureau forced his way over the line to put Montpellier in front for the first time.

That lead disappeared when silky handling in Ospreys midfield shifted possession out wide to Cuthbert, who stepped inside to score.

Thomas Darmon crossed over in the corner to put the French side back on top, but Ospreys resurged once more, thanks in large part to some individual magic from captain Justin Tipuric.

The flanker began by stabbing a kick through to the left touchline for Keelan Giles to run on to. 

The winger recovered possession and managed to unleash a kick downfield, before getting tackled. Tipuric gave chase and dived for the ball, using all his momentum to carry him over the white line to score.

It was a mesmeric moment of attacking rugby, laying bare the artistic attacking interplay, which Ospreys can offer.

The drama didn’t end there, though. 

With less than 10 minutes remaining, Cobus Reinach touched down from a meter out to bring Montpellier back to within one point of the leaders.

A tense few minutes followed, as the home side fought to keep its advantage intact. Having won a penalty, Ospreys made the bold move to go for the try, rather than the posts. 

The decision soon was rewarded, as Morgan Morris charged over to bring up the try bonus-point and seal the victory.

The hard-fought win, against a physical Montpellier team, puts Ospreys in good stead ahead of the clash with the Leicester Tigers – another team defined by power.

The only negative to come from the game was an early rib injury to Rhys Webb, who’s availability for Wales ahead of the Six Nations now is in doubt.

Written by Stefan Frost