With Exeter Chiefs set to host Montpellier Hérault Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 on April 2, we look back at their four previous meetings in the competition, three of which the English club have won.
2017: Montpellier 24 Exeter 27
Exeter inflicted only Montpellier’s fifth ever home defeat in the Heineken Champions Cup, flanker Don Armand leading the way with two tries in the Pool 3 encounter.
The French side led 17-10 at half-time thanks to scores from Joe Tomane, Benoit Paillaugue and Nemani Nadolo, the last of which was converted by Paillaugue. In reply, Armand notched the first of his brace, Gareth Steenson added the conversion and a penalty.
Ian Whitten’s converted try for the Chiefs levelled matters on 44 minutes, but Nadolo re-established Montpellier’s lead straightaway with his second try of the game.
Back came Exeter, though, and Armand burrowed over for his second try of the game, with Steensen converting to level the scores, before clinching the win with eight minutes remaining via a penalty.
2018: Exeter 41 Montpellier 10
Exeter completed a comprehensive Pool 3 double over Montpellier at Sandy Park with a six-try drubbing of the TOP 14 leaders, two of which were scored by wing Olly Woodburn.
The Chiefs were only 7-0 ahead at the break after a Dave Ewers try was converted by Gareth Steenson, but they ran riot in the second half.
In addition to Woodburn’s brace, Sam Simmonds, Don Armand and Nic White also touched down, with Steenson improving two, Joe Simmonds one and kicking a last-minute penalty too.
Montpellier were overpowered up front and could only respond with a 78th-minute try by Nemani Nadolo converted by Aaron Cruden, who had earlier landed a penalty.
2021: Exeter 42 Montpellier 6
It was another tale of woe for Montpellier on their second visit to Sandy Park as Exeter lock Jonny Gray scored a hat-trick of tries in the Gallagher Premiership club’s Pool A rout of the French club.
The home side again notched five second-half tries after they had edged the first half 7-6, Stuart Hogg’s 23rd-minute touchdown, converted by Joe Simmonds, nudging the 2020 champions in front following two early Louis Foursans penalties.
Gray powered over from close range three times after the restart, while Sam Simmonds and Don Armand added late tries to underline the Chiefs’ supremacy, with Joe Simmonds improving them all.
2022: Montpellier 37 Exeter 26
Montpellier registered their first victory over Exeter in thrilling style to secure the last available Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 place in an eight-try bonanza featuring four for both teams.
Exeter No.8 Sam Simmonds scored a sensational hat-trick, but the 2020 champions were forced to settle for a sixth-place finish in the pool after being outfought by Montpellier.
Three of the TOP 14 team’s four tries came in the first half – from Anthony Bouthier, Paul Willemse and Jan Serfontein – as they opened up a 24-19 lead, Louis Foursans converting three and adding a penalty.
🚨 Your Try of the Round winner 🚨@NgandebeGabriel 👏 Anthony Bouthier 👏 @MHR_officiel 👏@VMSportIE's @AlanQuinlan1: "A fantastic counter-attack and individual brilliance" pic.twitter.com/LE0JWRn1VO
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 27, 2022
Exeter also scored three tries before the break via Simmonds (2) and Sean O’Brien, two of which were improved by Joe Simmonds, but Montpellier pulled further clear in the second half.
Although Exeter nudged 26-24 ahead in the early stages with Simmonds’ third try, the home side responded in clinical fashion, Foursans kicking a penalty before Cobus Reinach sealed the bonus point with a try goaled by Paolo Garbisi, who also landed a penalty.