Match Centre: London Irish 27-32 Montpellier

Cobus Reinach was one of the try-scorer for Montpellier
Cobus Reinach was one of the try-scorer for Montpellier
©Steve Haag

London Irish 27-32 Montpellier, Gtech Community Stadium

Montpellier capitalised on a red card to Agustin Creevy as they defeated a 14-man London Irish 32-27 in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup at Gtech Community Stadium on Friday.

As Montpellier was penalised for an offside, London Irish opened the account with a penalty goal in the 9th minute before Louis Carbonel missed a chance to level the scores as his three-pointer went wide.

Carbonel made amends for his earlier mistake as London Irish infringed at ruck to kick a penalty goal in the 15th minute and they went into the lead seven minutes later with another three-pointer from the fly-half making it 3-6.

The visitors were down to 14 players temporarily as prop Enzo Forletta was sin-binned for dragging down a maul close to his own line, and Gonzalez then powered over from close range.

They further increased their lead as Agustin Creevy sent a perfect offload for Lucio Cinti to touchdown. Jackson improved both the conversions as London Irish increased their lead to 17-6.

The Exiles suffered a major setback at the end of the opening half as Creevy was red-carded for a high tackle but despite down on the numerical advantage, González dotting down once more after good work from Ben Loader. Nevertheless, his effort was cancelled out with Cobus Reinach touching down after collecting the ball from breakdown as the teams completed the opening half with a 24-13 scoreline.

The visitors were the fastest to get off the block in the second half as Paolo Garbisi made a perfect pass for Thomas Darmon to score and Carbonel kicked the conversion to bring the gap down to four points.

Double try scorer Gonzalez was then replaced because of a head injury before the French side went into the lead after Alexandre Becognee dived from close range and Carbonel improved to make it 24-27. The visitors wasted no time in extending their lead, Darmon scoring his brace under pressure in the corner, but the unconverted try meant his side then sat eight points ahead.

With seven minutes left in the game, Montpellier lost Léo Coly to yellow card for a high tackle on Chandler Cunningham-South and Rory Jennings' penalty goal got the Exiles close but they eventually succumbed to a five point defeat.

Team line up:

London Irish: Loader; Cinti, Joseph, Van Rensburg, Hassell-Collins; Jackson, White; Gigena, Creevy, Chawatama, Simmons, Coleman, Rogerson, Gonzalez, Fa'aso'o.

Reserves: Willemse, Fischetti, Hoskins, Munga, Cunningham-South, Powell, Jennings, Morisi.

Montpellier: Bouthier; Lam, Darmon, Garbisi, Bridge; Carbonel, Reinach; Forletta, Paenga-Amosa, Haouas, Chalureau, Verhaeghe, Camara, Becognee, Mercer.

Reserves: Langdon, Tu'inukuafe, Lamositele, Doumenc, Coly, Tisseron, Dakuwaqa, TauleigneGtech Community Stadium


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