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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 13 December, 2019
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The Champions Cup opening weekend continues.

Following wins for the other three Irish provinces, Connacht will be hoping to add to that run of results at the Sportsground when they take on Montpellier this afternoon.

We’ll be bringing you all the live action as it unfolds so do stay with us throughout the afternoon.

The time line-ups are coming your way shortly as we edge towards the 1pm kick-off.

Connacht

15. Darragh Leader
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Kyle Godwin
12. Bundee Aki
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Cillian Gallagher
5. Ultan Dillane
6. Colby Fainga’a
7. Jarrad Butler (captain)
8. Paul Boyle

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Matthew Burke
18. Conor Kenny
19. Eoghan Masterson
20. Robin Copeland
21. Stephen Kerins
22. Tom Daly
23. John Porch

Montpellier

15. Anthony Bouthier
14. Gabriel N’gandebe
13. Arthur Vincent
12. Jan Serfontein
11. Yvan Reilhac
10. Aaron Cruden
9. Benoit Paillaugue (captain) 

1. Mikheil Nariashvili
2. Youri Delhommel
3. Mohamed Haouas
4. Nico Janse van Rensburg
5. Paul Willemse
6. Kelian Galletier
7. Yacouba Camara
8. Caleb Timu

Replacements:

16. Bismarck Du Plessis
17. Grégory Fichten
18. Jannie Du Plessis
19. Fulgence Ouedraogo
20. Enzo Sanga
21. Julien Bardy
22. Henry Immelman
23. Jacques Du Plessis 

And for some pre-match reading, have a look at Murray Kinsella’s match preview here.

Some pre-match changes for Connacht

Huge blow there for Connacht who already had Tiernan O’Halloran, Tom Farrell, Kieran Marmion, Quinn Roux and Gavin Thornbury already ruled out with injury.

Both sides are making their way out onto the pitch now.

2Mins

TRY! Connacht 0-5 Montpellier (Cruden ’1)

Flag

Connacht 0-7 Montpellier 

Well that was not the start that Connacht would have wanted. Aaron Cruden stormed through to slide over the tryline and get the French side off to an ideal start.

They pick up the conversion through Benoit Paillaugue to stretch their advantage.

8Mins

Connacht 0-5 Montpellier 

Great response from Connacht to work the ball back down the field and threaten the Montpellier line.

Paul Boyle tries to link up with Kyle Godwin but his pass is fired out over the sideline.

11Mins

Connacht 0-7 Montpellier 

Some poor passing from Connacht as the ball bounces out over the line again. They’ve also been hit by yet another injury as Joe Maksymiw comes in for Cillian Gallagher.

14Mins

Connacht 0-7 Montpellier 

Brilliant work from Connacht to win a penalty after a kick-chase. Great chance to get some points on the board.

15Mins

Connacht 3-7 Montpellier 

Straight and true!

Jack Carty gets his first points of the afternoon and that should settle the hosts.

Connacht 3-7 Montpellier 

Montpellier knock the ball on after going through 11 phases. Cruden was instrumental in gaining the territory but Kelian Galletier failed to keep his grip after receiving a pass.

23Mins

Connacht 3-10 Montpellier 

Montpellier earn a penalty in a really scoreable position and Paillaugue makes no mistake with the kick in front of the posts to restore the seven-point lead.

Connacht 3-10 Montpellier 

The hosts are penalised again at the breakdown and Paillaugue kicks to the corner to bring Montpellier back to the Connacht ’22.

29Mins

Connacht 3-10 Montpellier 

Brilliant turnover from Tom McCartney to get Connacht moving again after were under huge pressure in their own territory.

Bundee Aki and Tom Daly combine well to bring the attack back up the pitch but McCartney is punished then for not keeping his line-out throw straight.

34Mins

Connacht 3-10 Montpellier 

Relief for Connacht as a forward pass near their five metre line gives them a chance to get things going again in the scrum.

The referee then calls for a reset after both sides collapse. This time Blade gets the ball all the way through to initiate an attack.

Colby Fainga’a makes huge strides down along the sideline before he’s muscled out.

37Mins

Connacht 3-10 Montpellier 

Connacht are so close to breaking through. Tom Daly makes a good break to bring them closer.

McCartney opts for a pick and go. The ball is recycled out to Blade. They’re two metres away from the line.

39Mins

Connacht 8-10 Montpellier 

Brilliant from Boyle as he stretches over to get that much-deserved try. Carty’s conversion attempt is from a tricky angle and he drags the shot wide.

Still, that’s a massive score for the hosts after conceding that early try in the opening minute.

40Mins

Connacht 8-10 Montpellier 

Connacht take a lineout inside the Montpellier ’22 and Fainga’a ships a heavy tackle during the play.

We’re going to the TMO to determine if any disciplinary action needs to be taken.

Connacht 13-10 Montpellier

Carty misses from the tee again but Connaht will have to be happy with the half-time scoreline as Tom McCartney edges them in front with a brilliant try from the rolling maul.

What a turnaround for Andy Friend’s charges after those early wobbles. And just to bring you up to speed, there was a yellow card for Montpellier’s Paul Willemse for that tackle on Fainga’a.

First-Half Highlights 

jack-carty-with-paul-willemse Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

aaron-cruden-scores-his-sides-first-try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

paul-boyle-goes-to-score-a-try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

paul-boyle-celebrates-scoring-a-try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

40Mins

Connacht 13-10 Montpellier

And we’re off for the second half. Can Connacht maintain their lead?

44Mins

Connacht 13-10 Montpellier

Good defensive work from Connacht to get back and snuff out the danger after a Montpellier break.

McCartney sets them up nicely with the line-out and they boot the ball clear from the maul with Maksymiw and Blade linking up well. 

46Mins

Connacht 13-10 Montpellier

Caleb Timu drives at the Connacht line from the scrum. The referee awards a penalty to Montpellier for offside and they can level up the tie here.

47Mins

Connacht 13-13 Montpellier

Paillaugue curls the ball between the posts and it’s all square in Galway. 

50Mins

Connacht 13-13 Montpellier

Connacht responding well to that penalty. Carty ducks in with a nice little run to gain a few yards.

Andy Friend run through the phases as the ball is recycled out to Darragh Leader. Dillane, Carty and Godwin all contribute to keep possession and the move eventually comes to an end as the referee brings the play back for a Connacht penalty.

51Mins

Connacht 13-13 Montpellier

Carty opts to kick for the corner. The lineout leads to a well-executed maul and Connacht are knocking on the door.

Connacht 20-13 Montpellier

Connacht are really motoring now! Blade spots a gap and punishes Montpellier for not having the numbers across as he races over.

That’s try number three for Connacht who have recovered so well, as Carty drills the ball over from the conversion.

Connact 20-13 Montpellier

McCartney concedes a penalty and Montpellier kick for touch to get back to the Connacht ’22.

 

Connacht 20-13 Montpellier

Great work from Bundee Aki with an excellent tackle technique to pull off the turnover. That moment could give Connacht a huge lift as they continue to protect their lead.

65Mins

Connacht 20-20 Montpellier

Huge setback there as Connacht let the visitors in for a second try. Anthony Bouthier gets the better of McCartney to sprint through and Paillaugue adds the extras from the conversion.

Flag 69Mins

Connacht 23-20 Montpellier

Conor Fitzgerald comes in for Carty and announces himself to the stage with a brilliant kick from a penalty.

He was under huge pressure there to reclaim the lead but he handled it with ease. We’re heading into the final 10 minutes of action now.

73Mins

Connacht 23-20 Montpellier

Bundee in again with another huge tackle to reclaim possession. A well-timed rendition of The Fields of Athenry rings out around the Sportsground. 

75Mins

Connacht 23-20 Montpellier

Another fine kick from Fitzgerald to find touch and keep the visitors well away from the danger area.

We’re heading into the final five minutes of the second half. Can Connacht hold on?

76Mins

Connacht 23-20 Montpellier

So close there!

Montpellier worked the ball out wide and tried to release Gabriel N’gandebe on the wing. He fumbles the ball however and Connacht can breathe a sigh of relief. He could well have been in for a try had he held onto the ball.

78Mins

Connacht 23-20 Montpellier

Huge moment as Connacht are awarded a penalty. Fitzgerald sends the ball into the corner to allow Connacht to play keep ball and eat into the remaining seconds.

Connacht 23-20 Montpellier

Incredible!

Connacht showed immense composure to hold the ball without committing any errors and see out the tie.

Caolin Blade led the way to finish out and he deservedly collects the man-of-the-match award. Substitute Conor Fitzgerald deserves a big mention as well for his contribution off the bench, slotting over what turned out to be the match-winning penalty.

Bundee Aki’s defensive work-rate was integral to Connacht’s win too.

Well that’s all from us folks.

A massive win for Connacht after being struck down by so many injuries. The result also completes a clean sweep of victories for the Irish provinces on the opening weekend of the Champions Cup.

Before you go, have a read of Murray Kinsella’s match report from the Sportsground.

All the best!

Friend’s Connacht overcome injury crisis to notch impressive win over Montpellier

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