Montpellier stun sagging Clermont

Rugby ball (File)
Rugby ball (File)

Paris - Montpellier defeated struggling Clermont 19-15 in the French Top-14 on Saturday with a superb first-half performance.

The win, in a match that had only one try, moves them back into the top six ahead of Bordeaux, who were playing later at Castres.

For Clermont it was another body blow on the back of their elimination from the European Champions Cup last weekend.

There was some consolation in that the defensive bonus point they took meant they topped the Top-14, but Toulouse and Racing 92 were also in action later and could overhaul them.

Montpellier dominated the first half against an insipid home side at their Marcel Michelin stronghold, but they had to wait until five minutes from half-time for their first try.

Winger Marvin O'Connor, who earned a callup into the France squad for the Six Nations last week, blasted over at the end of a superb drive from midfield.

That made it 16-3 at half-time with Jack White's team facing a daunting task in the second half.

But it was a different story when play resumed with Clermont in the ascendency and Montpellier distinctly on the back foot.

Two penalties from flyhalf Camille Lopez and his replacement Brock James narrowed the margin and it got worse for Montpellier when South African hooker Bismark Du Plessis was yellow-carded after a succession of penalties.

Clermont were parked on the Montpellier line, but had to settle for another James penalty and were rocked just minutes later with a huge drop goal from Demetri Catrakilis left Clermont needing a converted try to level the scores.

James struck his third and his side's fifth penalty of the match with 10 minutes to go, but Montpellier held firm after that with a dogged defence winning the points for them.

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