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Benetton Rugby became the first Italian side to reach the quarter-finals of a European competition when they beat Agen in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Round of 16.
They will be looking to go one step further when they take on Montpellier for a place in the semi-finals – a side that have only lost one of their eight games against Italian teams in the Challenge Cup.
Montpellier overcame Glasgow Warriors 26-21 at the GGL Stadium in the last 16, their tenth consecutive home victory in the Challenge Cup.
Benetton have won 11 of the 14 games they have played against TOP 14 teams in the Challenge Cup, and have won their last two away games in the competition.
The action at the GGL Stadium gets underway at 20:00 (British and Irish time) and is available to watch on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and beIN SPORTS and FR4 in France.
Montpellier; 11th in Heineken Champions Cup Pool A; 0 points
Benetton Rugby; 7th in European Rugby Challenge Cup Prelim Stage; 5 points
Round of 16
Montpellier 26-21 Glasgow Warriors
Benetton Rugby 29-16 Agen
European Head-to-head record
The sides have never met in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Leading 2020/21 points-scorers
Montpellier: Alex Lozowski (16)
Benetton Rugby: Tommaso Allan (14)
We’re bringing you another action-packed weekend of thrilling #ChallengeCupRugby drama! 🔥
Get set for four EPIC quarter-final clashes this weekend LIVE on @btsportrugby 🤩
Which tussle are you most looking forward to? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Xr7nBlm5YB
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) April 7, 2021
Anthony Bouthier (Montpellier): “Our goal is to go as far as possible in the Challenge Cup. If we go to the end, we would remember more easily a nice course in this competition or even a trophy than this very complicated season. We will meet this Italian team, made up of many internationals. We respect them enormously.”
- Montpellier and Benetton Rugby will face each other for the first time in the Challenge Cup; however, they have met twice before in the Heineken Champions Cup, the TOP 14 side winning both games in 2013/14 pool stage.
- Montpellier have won their last 10 home games in the Challenge Cup, one more win than in their previous 19 home games in the competition (W9 D1 L9).
- Montpellier have only lost one of their eight games against Italian teams in the Challenge Cup (W7), winning each of their four home games in the process, by an average margin of 53 points.
- Benetton Rugby have won each of their last four completed games in the Challenge Cup, as many wins as in their previous 11 games (L7); they have won their last two away games in the competition but are yet to win three games in a row on the road.
- Benetton Rugby have played 14 of their 24 completed games in the Challenge Cup against TOP 14 teams (58%), winning 11 of those (L3), including their last two trips to France.
- This is the fourth time Montpellier have reached the quarter-final stage of the Challenge Cup, they beat Sale in their most recent appearance at this juncture (2015/16) but lost their first time matches at this stage (2007/08 and 2010/11).
- Benetton are the first Italian side to reach the quarter-final stage of either European competition.
- Benetton have missed eight shots at goal in the Challenge Cup this season, more than any other side in the competition, leaving them with the lowest goal kicking success rate (47%).
- Montpellier conceded 18 penalties in their victory over Glasgow in the Round of 16, the most a side has conceded in a Challenge Cup match this season.
- Benetton’s Sebastian Negri made 15 carries in the Round of 16, only three players made more.
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Benoit Paillaugue tallied up 23 points as Montpellier booked their place in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-finals with a hard-fought 31-25 victory over Benetton Rugby.
20-year-old fly-half Paolo Garbisi, who scored all bar three of Benetton’s points at the GGL Stadium, and Montpellier’s Paillaugue exchanged early penalties in what would be a running theme over the course of the first half.
Garbisi’s second effort from the tee saw the visitors lead on ten minutes, but Montpellier scrum-half Paillaugue produced some smart play to sneak over the line for the first try of the game.
Garbisi and Paillaugue were both on target with penalties again over the next 15 minutes, with Montpellier full-back Anthony Bouthier also getting in on the act with an opportunistic drop-kick.
C'est fini au GGL stadium ! Le MHR se qualifie dans la douleur pour la deuxième demi-finale européenne de son histoire face au Benetton Rugby ! #TeamMHR #MHRBEN pic.twitter.com/XsBshTQmxd
— Montpellier Rugby (@MHR_officiel) April 10, 2021
Benetton led 15-14 following the flurry of kicks, but Montpellier lock Paul Willemse made amends for an early yellow card as he drove over from close range to give the hosts a six-point advantage going into half-time.
Garbisi then dived over in the corner for a try shortly after the break and converted to give Benetton the lead, but Paillaugue crossed for his second score of the evening ten minutes later.
Paillaugue’s conversion re-established Montpellier’s six-point advantage, and he then slotted his third penalty to strengthen the home side’s grip on the game with an hour played.
Tommaso Allan came off the bench slot a penalty for Benetton and set up a nervy final 15 minutes for Montpellier, but the French side held on to progress to the final four of the Challenge Cup.
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