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Cardiff 24 Montpellier 35: Blues out of Heineken Cup

Cardiff 24 Montpellier 35: European dream over for Blues as Williams sees red

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 9 December 2012

Fourteen-man Cardiff had their Heineken Cup aspirations ended as they fell to a third straight Pool Six defeat at the hands of Montpellier.

Teenage fly-half Rhys Patchell slotted seven penalties and a drop goal for the home side, who had scrum-half Lloyd Williams sent off after 25 minutes for a tip tackle on opposite number Benoit Paillaugue.

Pierre Berard, Mamuka Gorgodze and Timoci Nagusa all crossed for Montpellier, with the classy Paillaugue kicking 20 points.

Godzilla: Mamuka Gorgodze goes over for Montpellier

Godzilla: Mamuka Gorgodze goes over for Montpellier

The Blues' defeat adds to the gloom that has enveloped Welsh rugby, with the regions managing a collective one win from nine Heineken Cup matches to go with the national side's run of seven straight defeats.

The injury-ravaged Blues, without Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts, Bradley Davies and a host of others, did make a good fist of the opening quarter against a Montpellier side resting several of their first-choice names.

Patchell had the hosts on the board inside four minutes with a penalty and fell just short with a long-distance effort just seconds earlier.

But there were already early warning signs for the Cardiff scrum, an Achilles heel throughout the season.

An emphatic drive from the Montpellier pack allowed Paillaugue to slot a monster 50-metre penalty, and another strong shove gave the scrum-half his second three-pointer after Patchell had briefly put the hosts back ahead.

Patchell, showing a good degree of composure for one so young, replied with another penalty to make it 9-6 at the end of a scrappy opening quarter lacking in creativity.

No way through: Alex Cuthbert is halted by Pierre Barard

No way through: Alex Cuthbert is halted by Pierre Barard

But the Blues' hopes were dealt a major blow when Wales international Williams was dismissed.

The home crowd howled their derision at referee John Lacey, but the official was left with little choice after Williams lifted opposite number Paillaugue and dropped him on to the back of his neck after the ball had squirted out of a Blues scrum.

Paillaugue dusted himself down to level the scores from the resulting penalty, only for Patchell to again respond, this time with a well-taken drop goal.

But the home side's numerical disadvantage soon told as Montpellier built patiently through the phases to work an overlap on the left for wing Berard to cross, with the reliable boot of Paillaugue adding the conversion from the touchline.

Patchell kept Cardiff in it with yet another penalty, but when Dafydd Hewitt came in at the side of the ruck Paillaugue struck to leave the visitors 19-15 to the good at the break.

Try time: Timoci Nagusa scores Montpellier's third and final try

Try time: Timoci Nagusa scores Montpellier's third and final try

The Blues turned round with a strong wind behind them and Patchell used it to bring them within a point with a huge three-pointer from almost his own 10-yard line.

Montpellier should have made the game safe 15 minutes into the second half when Yoan Audrin picked off Patchell's pass.

The young fly-half did brilliantly to haul the winger down, but when the ball was recycled the visitors had a huge overlap, only for Gorgodze's final pass to Berard to be ruled forward.

Paillaugue did at least re-establish the four-point lead with his latest penalty, and the French side's second try followed with 14 minutes to go.

Fly-half Santiago Fernandez gathered in Paillaugue's kick to take Montpellier deep into Cardiff territory. Desperate scrambling defence kept out Berard, but Gorgodze stretched out to dot down through the ruck.

The hosts battled gamely and Patchell quickly slotted another two penalties to get the Blues back to within three points.

But Paillaugue steadied any French nerves before replacement wing Nagusa sealed the win by finishing smartly in the corner.

Montpellier 24 Bath 22: Late try piles on the misery for visitors in France

Montpellier 24 Bath 22: Late try piles on the misery for visitors in France

Bath's disappointing Heineken Cup campaign continued as they slumped to their fourth defeat in five matches this season after going down to a last-gasp try at the hands of Montpellier.

Bath had looked set for victory as two tries from lock Ryan Caldwell helped put them 22-17 ahead going into the final minute, but Montpellier snatched their first-ever Heineken Cup win when Timoci Nagusa went over for a score that was converted by Martin Bustos Moyano.

The result leaves Bath bottom of Pool Three on seven points, with Montpellier moving into second spot, level on 10 points with Glasgow but having played a game extra. Leinster lead the way on 16 points ahead of their meeting with Glasgow on Sunday.

False dawn: Bath's Matt Banahan scores a try against Montpellier

False dawn: Bath's Matt Banahan scores a try against Montpellier

It was Montpellier who were quickest out of the blocks at the Stade Yves du Manoir as they crossed for a try inside the opening minute through wing Pierre Berard.

Benoit Paillaugue added the extra points to make it 7-0 but Bath battled back from that early setback to take a 10-7 lead at the interval, Olly Barkley reducing the deficit with a penalty before then converting Caldwell's first try on the stroke of half-time.

A Paillaugue penalty levelled the scores up five minutes into the second half but Bath were back in front soon after when Caldwell went over for his second score, Tom Heathcote adding the extra points this time.

Stop: Bath's Nick Abendanon (centre) is tackled by winger Martin Bustos

Stop: Bath's Nick Abendanon (centre) is tackled by winger Martin Bustos

Bath's advantage lasted barely eight minutes before Montpellier made it 17-17 through a converted Alex Tulou score, but the Aviva Premiership side were soon back in the ascendancy as England international Matt Banahan scored their third try of the match in the 71st minute.

Heathcote was unable to add the extra points though, and that meant the French side, playing in only their second Heineken Cup campaign, knew a late converted try could still win them the match – and that is exactly what happened thanks to Nagusa and replacement Moyano.