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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 24 August, 2019
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Leinster feel the full force of Nadolo in Montpellier defeat

However, the eastern province finished strong to claim a losing bonus point.

Montpellier 22

Leinster 16

Sean Farrell reports from Altrad Stadium

LEINSTER WERE OVERPOWERED by a Montpellier side mixing grizzled South African forward play with the inimitable talents of Nemani Nadolo.

However, they staged a late rally to come away with a losing bonus point from a muddy Champions Cup pool 4 clash.

Montpellier’s Nemani Nadolo Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The triple injury boost that came with the names of O’Brien, Sexton and Mike McCarthy on Friday’s team-sheet was already tempered with McCarthy’s withdrawal over the weekend. And when Isa Nacewa took the kicking tee instead of Sexton, another complication became clear for the eastern province even before Vincent Martin and Nadolo touched down three tries for the hosts.

The light mist of rain that would have greeted travelling supporters last night turned into intermittent deluges in the hours before kick-off and the combination of those conditions with some ferocious tackling meant it took until the 25th minute for the opening score.

Jonathan Sexton, returning after a week out with a hamsting niggle, left the kicking duty to Isa Nacewa. However, the lead wasn’t to be Leinster’s for long. A Cian Healy knock-on allowed the hosts attack from 30 metres out and Vincent Martin identified a pod of forwards to speed past on his way to the try-line.

Seven short minutes later, Leinster felt another hammer blow. Caught narrow in defence on the edge of their own 22, Steyn and Alexandre Dumoulin fizzed the ball left inviting Nadolo to throw his weight around. Poor Rob Kearney was the first tackler up and he was duly trampled. The Fijian behemoth had a full head of steam up and the cover tackle on the try-line was never going to deny him.

Steyn, having cracked a 20th minute penalty off the post, was unflinchingly accurate with the two conversions to leave Leinster trailing 14 – 3 at the halfway stage.

Leinster’s Luke McGrath Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Sexton and O’Brien were withdrawn at half-time, but the hosts maintained the pattern of the contest, demanding solid sets of tackles from Leinster and forcing attacking errors when the yellow-shirted guests had the ball.

The hosts got a helping hand along the way too, of course. After Steyn and Nacewa traded penalties, Kearney was harshly sin-binned for a late challenge when a ball had been chipped beyond him. Leinster didn’t help themselves either, and when Jamie Heaslip drove down the blindside of a scrum on his own five-metre line, his attempt at an offload was perfect only in the eyes of Nadolo who happily grounded his second try for his new club.

The 28-year-old, 130-odd kilo winger was withdrawn with two minutes on the clock. Montpellier, felt they had the job done after withstanding a Leinster onslaught, but one more period of pressure allowed Jamison Gibson-Park to find a hole for Nacewa with a beautiful skip pass and the skipper sneaked through to claim what might just prove to be a crucial losing bonus point.

Scorers

Montpellier

Tries: V Martin, N Nadolo (2)

Conversions: F Steyn (2 / 3)

Penalties: F Steyn ( 1 / 2)

Leinster

Tries: I Nacewa

Conversions: I Nacewa

Penalties: I Nacewa (3/3)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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