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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 19 October, 2018
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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of Leinster’s concluding Champions Cup pool game, as Leo Cullen’s side bid to make it six wins from six and progress through to the quarter-finals as top seeds.

Leinster are the only side to have secured their place in the last eight ahead of round six with seven quarter-final places still up for grabs over what promises to be a thrilling weekend of European rugby.

Montpellier go into this Pool 3 clash with faint hopes of progression but need to win here today with a bonus point and hope Exeter Chiefs don’t beat Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun.

Both games kick off at 1pm and we’ll bring you all the action as it happens.

TEAM NEWS: Montpellier have made five changes from their defeat at Sandy Park in round five, with Vern Cotter naming what looks to be his strongest team. Former Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar is back from injury and forms a dangerous half-back pairing with Aaron Cruden while Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo will look to cause more damage to Leinster having scored four tries in his last three games against the province.

Montpellier:

15. Benjamin Fall
14. Timoci Nagusa
13. Frans Steyn
12. Jan Serfontein
11. Nemani Nadolo
10. Aaron Cruden
9. Ruan Pienaar

1. Mikheil Nariashvili
2. Bismarck Du Plessis
3. Antoine Guillamon
4. Nicholaas Van Rensburg
5. Konstantine Mikautadze
6. Kelian Galletier
7. Yacouba Camara
8. Louis Picamoles.

Replacements:

16. Romain Ruffenach
17. Yvan Watremez
18. Mohamed Haouas
19. Julien Delannoy
20. Fulgence Ouedraogo
21. Gela Aprasidze
22. Joe Tomane
23. Jesse Mogg.

TEAM NEWS: As for Leinster, Leo Cullen has shuffled his pack after a busy festive and New Year period and makes six changes from last week’s win over Glasgow Warriors. Johnny Sexton is rested with Ross Byrne, Rob Kearney, Jamison Gibson-Park, Cian Healy, James Ryan and Dan Leavy all coming in. Joey Carbery could make his return from injury after being named on the bench.

Leinster:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Isa Nacewa (captain)
11. James Lowe
10. Ross Byrne
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Cian Healy
2. Seán Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Dan Leavy
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan

Replacements:

16. Bryan Byrne
17. Jack McGrath
18. Andrew Porter
19. Ross Molony
20. Jordi Murphy
21. Luke McGrath
22. Joey Carbery
23. Fergus McFadden

Leinster and Montpellier fans outside the Altrad Stadium Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ross Byrne and Luke McGrath arrive Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A view of match balls at the Altrad Stadium Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Louis Picamoles and Isa Nacewa with Luke Pearce Source: James Crombie/INPHO

PRE-MATCH READING: A little under 10 minutes until kick-off in the south of France but before then whet your appetite with some of our pre-match offerings, including a look at the permutations ahead of the final pool games.

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through the action minute-by-minute, while Murray Kinsella is in position at the Altrad Stadium as we bring you live coverage of this Pool 3 clash.

KICK OFF: We’re underway at the Altrad Stadium, with Leinster playing in their changed European kit of all white.

1Mins

1 min – James Lowe gathers Cruden’s kick off but his attempted clearance kick is blocked down and Montpellier have some early possession in the Leinster half.

2Mins

2 mins – Sloppy start to the game as Leinster exit poorly but then Montpellier knock it on in midfield and the visitors have the scrum. Gibson-Park to feed.

5Mins

UPDATE: Glasgow have made a flying start at Scotstoun as Stuart Hogg cuts through the Exeter defence to dot down under the posts. An easy conversation for Finn Russell and the hosts lead 7-0.

5Mins

5 mins — James Lowe bursts through after good work from Gibson-Park and is hauled down inches from the line, before Leinster recycle and go wide to Byrne who touches down in the corner. We’re going to the TMO though…

Flag 6Mins

6 mins — TRY! Montpellier 0-5 Leinster (Ross Byrne)

There’s no knock on in the build-up and Luke Pearce awards the try to give Leinster the perfect start. Byrne is unable to convert his own try, tugging his effort from the far touchline a little left of the posts.

8Mins

MATCH SHOT: Robbie Henshaw and Jordan Larmour double up to tackle Montpellier fullback Benjamin Fall.

Jordan Larmour and Robbie Henshaw tackle Benjamin Fall Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

9Mins

9 mins – Nacewa’s clearance kick is blocked down and Henshaw does brilliantly to turn sharply and get back to dive on the loose ball and avert the danger. Kearney then produces a gem of a left-footed kick in behind to find touch on the far side.

14Mins

14 mins – Brief break in play as Louis Picamoles gets bandaged up after a knock to the head. Lots of kicking in this game so far as both sides look to gain territory, with Leinster enjoying the better start.

15Mins

MATCH SHOT: Ross Byrne goes over in the corner for his first Leinster try.

Ross Byrne scores his sides opening try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

16Mins

16 mins – Strong work Mikautadze as he wrestles the ball off Gibson-Park as Leinster rumbled forward with a maul, and Montpellier look to pounce. The hosts throw it through the hands and expose Leinster out wide with a three-on-one before Nagusa feeds Pienaar inside but the final pass was forward and Luke Pearce pulls it back.

19Mins

19 mins – More razzle dazzle from Lowe as he shows his exceptional handling and offloading game before Josh van der Flier carries hard, with Leinster then winning a penalty as Montpellier fail to roll away.

20Mins

20 mins — Penalty! Montpellier 0-8 Leinster (Byrne)

No mistake this time from Byrne as he strikes it sweetly to extend Leinster’s lead.

21Mins

21 mins — Worrying moments for Leinster as they’re forced to dig deep defensively. Steyn breaks down the right and offloads inside but we’re going back to the far side for a penalty after the visitors failed to roll away. Cruden turns down a shot at goal to kick for the corner.

23Mins

23 mins — TRY! Montpellier 7-8 Leinster (Du Plessis)

That was incredibly easy for Montpellier, as they power towards the line and Du Plessis finishes it off as he falls over the whitewash. Cruden converts from the touchline.

25Mins

25 mins – The Kiwi has been energetic and dangerous in possession, but has made a couple of poor decisions defensively.

26Mins

MATCH SHOT: Bismarck Du Plessis gets Montpellier on the board after a powerful rolling maul.

Bismarck Du Plessis scores his sides opening try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

28Mins

26 mins — It’s been a really mixed performance so far from Lowe, as his attempted pass out left is intercepted by Nadolo. The ball squirts free a few phases later and James Ryan shows good athleticism to dive on it and regain possession for the visitors.

28Mins

28 mins – Nadolo bashes his way through Larmour and then Cruden makes a darting break with a brilliant hand-off to get away from Henshaw. There is space out wide for Montpellier but Pienaar decides to kick in behind and Kearney covers to clear his lines.

29Mins

29 mins – Leinster are making a lot of errors — missed tackles, bad reads and intercepted passes — are inviting Montpellier back into this game.

32Mins

MATCH SHOT: James Lowe has been heavily involved during this first half.

Ruan Pienaar and James Lowe Source: James Crombie/INPHO

34Mins

34 mins – Another Leinster mistake as Henshaw’s long pass floats forward, giving Montpellier an attacking scrum 45 metres out.

36Mins

36 mins – Montpellier throwing it through the hands as Cruden troubles the Leinster defence again, before Furlong is penalised at the breakdown. Indiscipline from the visitors could cost them dearly here.

37Mins

37 mins — TRY! Montpellier 14-8 Leinster (Camara)

Montpellier mix it up but it’s the same result from the five metre lineout. Picamoles is fed by Van Rensburg and then pops it to Camara, who steps right and crosses. Cruden converts and the hosts lead for the first time.

40Mins

39 mins – Leinster are on the ropes as we approach half-time. Cruden is running the show for Montpellier and Furlong is required to make a last-ditch tackle on Nadolo on this near side to prevent a certain try before van der Flier completes the turnover. Superb work from the tighthead.

Flag

HALF-TIME: Montpellier 14-8 Leinster 

A disappointing first-half performance from Leinster after a good start through Ross Byrne’s first try for the province. Far too many errors gifted Montpellier a route back into the game and two lineout scores courtesy of Du Plessis and Camara sees the hosts go into the break with a six-point lead.

James Ryan tackles Aaron Cruden Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Nemani Nadolo and Jamison Gibson-Park compete for a high ball Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ross Byrne kicks a penalty Source: James Crombie/INPHO

UPDATE: Exeter’s dominance has finally paid off at Scotstoun as the Premiership champions get back on level terms through Sam Simmonds, with Gareth Steenson converting.

41Mins

KICK OFF: The teams are back out at the Altrad Stadium and Ross Byrne gets us back underway.

41Mins

41 mins – Leinster have started brightly again and they’re yards from the Montpellier line with a penalty advantage. Cronin carried hard in the build-up before Lowe made good yards down the left.

45Mins

43 mins – A period of sustained Leinster possession ends momentarily when two Montpellier players are caught offside. Byrne kicks for the corner. The visitors keeping it tight and carrying around the fringes.

Flag 47Mins

46 mins — TRY! Montpellier 14-13 Leinster (Robbie Henshaw)

The pressure pays off as Leinster spin it wide into the space and another excellent pass from Gibson-Park and then great hands from Kearney creates the opening for Henshaw to step inside Nadolo and dot down.

50Mins

49 mins — Penalty! Montpellier 14-16 Leinster (Byrne)

Great work from Leinster as Nacewa, Ryan and van der Flier all combine to win the turnover penalty in front of the posts and Byrne duly converts. The visitors back in front.

51Mins

51 mins – The complexion of this game has changed completely. Lovely hands from Cronin and Ryan inside the Leinster 22 sets Leavy and Gibson-Park away, with the scrum-half’s kick forcing Montpellier to hack into touch. Great position for Leinster here.

52Mins

52 mins — TRY! Montpellier 14-23 Leinster (Cronin)

Now it’s Leinster’s turn to crash over from a maul as they rumble towards the line before Cronin dives over. The province are back in control of this helter-skelter game.

55Mins

ACTION SHOT: Robbie Henshaw’s second-half try saw Leinster regain control of the contest.

Robbie Henshaw scores a try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

60Mins

CHANGES: Leo Cullen has introduced fresh legs with Jack McGrath, Luke McGrath and Joey Carbery — on his return from injur — now on, replacing Healy, Gibson-Park and Kearney.

Meanwhile, Larmour takes a ride on Nadolo’s back as the giant Fijian winger looks to break down the left. The 20-year-old did well to bring him down there.

61Mins

UPDATE: Glasgow have been awarded a penalty try by Romain Poite while Nic White has also been sent to the bin at Scotstoun. Exeter trailing 14-7 with 20 minutes remaining.

65Mins

65 mins – Leinster pressing for a fourth try after Larmour had originally been tackled high on the far side. McGrath looks to dart through a gap and the visitors exert sustained pressure on the Montpellier line but it breaks down when a white shirt is pinged for holding on.

CHANGES: Bryan Byrne and Andrew Porter on for Cronin and Furlong for the final 14 minutes of this game, while Jordi Murphy has replaced Leavy.

68Mins

MATCH SHOT: Gibson-Park and Cronin celebrate the hooker’s try.

Sean Cronin celebrates his try with Jamison Gibson-Park Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

69Mins

UPDATE: Glasgow have just scored one of the great European tries with a coast-to-coast effort against Exeter, finished off by Tommy Seymour, extending their lead to 21-7.

70Mins

70 mins – Leinster under all sorts of pressure now as Montpellier look to rally. The hosts drive towards the line and the province do just enough to halt it, albeit illegally. Pienaar kicks for the corner, but Toner rises to steal the lineout and van der Flier hacks clear. Quite superb defensive work from Leinster.

73Mins

UPDATE: Glasgow are tearing Exeter apart and the Premiership champions are now out of Europe as they head towards a heavy defeat at Scotstoun. Matt Fagerson clinches the bonus point for the Scots.

74Mins

CHANGES: Fergus McFadden and Ross Molony enter the fray for the final six minutes at the Altrad Stadium.

79Mins

UPDATE: Exeter have scored two tries in two minutes at Scotstoun and maybe their quarter-final hopes aren’t dead and buried just yet. The Chiefs trail 21-28 and have scored three tries but they need another two scores in the final seven minutes there.

79Mins

79 mins – A first win on French soil since October 2014 for Leinster, and another significant marker laid down by Cullen’s men.

Flag

FULL-TIME! Montpellier 14-23 Leinster 

Six from six in Pool 3 as Leinster finish with 27 points out of a possible 30 to progress through to the quarter-finals as top seeds.

Thanks for joining us this afternoon and remember we’ll have live coverage of the crunch ties involving Munster and Ulster tomorrow as they look to join Leinster in the quarter-finals.

Sean Cronin celebrates his try with James Lowe Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

We’ll have a full match report from Altrad Stadium to follow shortly, but until next time goodbye!

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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