Harlequins 19-26 Montpellier: Battling Quins lose out to Montpellier in the Challenge Cup final
Montpellier overcame Harlequins 26-19 in Lyon to lift the European Challenge Cup
Jesse Mogg’s try combined with the boot of Demetri Catrakilis gave the French side a 13-9 lead at the break
Mogg then added a second with Catrakilis securing the win for Montpellier from the tee
Marland Yarde did get a late consolation try for Quins to set up a grandstand finish
Montpellier’s physicality saw them over the line as they overcame Harlequins in Lyon to lift the European Challenge Cup.
In what was Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea’s final game in charge before he heads to Italy, Quins hardly lacked motivation as they looked to replicate their 2011 triumph and earn a spot in the European Champions Cup next season.
They were also looking to honour fallen teammate Seb Adeniran-Olule, who tragically died in a traffic collision at the age of 20 in midweek, which despite defeat they did with their effort and commitment right up until the final whistle. Things though just never went the English sides way.
The London club struggled to deal with Montpellier suffocation at the breakdown from the word go, conceding five turnovers in the opening 40, but thanks to the reliable boot of Nick Evans and the indiscipline of Montpellier they only trailed 13-9 at the break. The French side had opened up their lead through Jesse Mogg’s try and the reliable boot of Demetri Catrakilis and only had themselves to blame for not being further ahead at half-time.
Another try from Mogg after the restart combined with more accurate kicking from Catrakilis put Montpellier 23-9 clear at the hour mark as the French side continued to smash through Quins time and time again. Marland Yarde was able to get a late consolation try for Quins, but it was too little too late as Montpellier shut up shop.
Marland Yarde was able to get a late consolation try for Quins, but it was too little too late as Montpellier closed up shop.
Following an impeccably observed minutes silence as a mark of respect for Adeniran-Olule, Quins started the livelier and didn’t take long to take the lead as Evans slotted his first attempt at goal with ease. Catrakilis though replied soon after to level things up with seven minutes played, 3-3.
The French side then opened the try scoring after 22 minutes as early replacement Mogg slid over in the corner. The score came after a huge carry from Paul Willemse before the lock offloaded superbly for the fullback to stroll in unchallenged. Catrakilis then slotted the touchline conversion to give Montpellier a seven-point lead.
The fly-half then pushed Montpellier ten points clear with another successful strike, but Evans reliable boot reduced the deficit with a pair of three-pointers late in the half, meaning the Aviva Premiership side trailed just 13-9 at the break.
Things started no better for Montpellier after the restart as they conceded yet another penalty. However, Evans, this time, sent his effort wide of the mark.
And Quins were made to pay for the miss when Mogg added his second try of the game after 47 minutes. The fullback this time collected a high crossfield kick from Benoît Paillaugue before forcing the ball down. Catrakilis then added the extra two points to open up an 11-point lead. The fly-half then added another three for his side soon after to stretch their advantage further, 9-23.
Catrakilis delivered another three points for Montpellier as the continued to pull clear.
Harlequins though weren’t done as winger Marland Yarde finally made an impact on the game with a magnificent finish following Botica’s beautifully weighted grubber kicker. The replacement fly-half then cut the deficit to ten points with seven minutes to go, 16-26.
Botica then set up a grandstand finish as he reduced the deficit to just seven points with a penalty from in front of the posts.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Mat Luamanu, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavke, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Marvin O’Connor, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic White, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Benoît Paillaugue, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Jesse Mogg
Date: Friday, May 13
Venue: Grand Stade de Lyon
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)