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Ospreys will be harbouring hopes of a famous double over Montpellier Hérault Rugby when they welcome the TOP 14 champions to Swansea in Round 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday.
The Welsh region secured a stunning 21-10 victory at Montpellier in Round 2, which revived their qualification hopes after a 23-17 opening-round defeat at home to Leicester Tigers.
Montpellier remain in the hunt themselves too, having ground out a 32-27 victory at London Irish on the opening night.
Ospreys currently sit seventh in Pool B, level with six teams on five points, one of those being Montpellier, who are ninth on points difference.
Heading into their Round 2 clash, Ospreys have won two from three United Rugby Championship games, while Montpellier have achieved the same record in the TOP 14.
The game kicks off at 20:00 (UK & Irish time) and coverage comes from S4C, BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
What a season @Mercer8Zach's having 👊
In 2 games he's:
🔹 Made 40 carries (most)
🔹 Made 22 gainline crosses (most)
🔹 Made 47 metres in contact (joint-most)#HeinekenChampionsCup | @MHR_officiel pic.twitter.com/t1KvCtpFBf
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 10, 2023
- Rhys Webb made the most kicks in play in Round 2 (14), although only one was retained.
- The Ospreys scrum-half has notched the joint-most chips (3) and up-and-unders (8), as well as making the most metres from rucks (52).
- Alex Cuthbert has made three support carries so far, gaining 51 metres as a result, and made as many choke tackles as any other back (3).
- Justin Tipuric has won a joint-high number of rucks (10).
Montpellier Hérault Rugby
- Zach Mercer has made more carries in the competition than anyone (40) and crossed the gainline more than any other player (22). He has also made the joint-most metres in contact (47).
- Clément Doumenc has made the most tackles (34) and missed just one for a 97% success rate.
- Montpellier have made the most metres in contact of any side (282).
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Alex Cuthbert crossed twice as Ospreys secured a phenomenal 35-29 victory over Montpellier Hérault Rugby in Swansea on Saturday, making it back-to-back wins over the TOP 14 champions in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Justin Tipuric and Morgan Morris also dotted down for the Welsh region, with Cai Evans contributing a crucial 15 points from the tee.
Montpellier led on several occasions, but tries from Paul Willemse (2), Bastien Chalureau, Thomas Darmon and Cobus Reinach weren’t enough for the visitors.
With last month’s defeat in France still fresh in the memory, Montpellier made an uncertain start to the contest and missed the chance to take the lead as fly-half Louis Carbonel dragged wide from the tee.
👐 𝑯𝑨𝑵𝑫𝑺 👐@ospreys ship the ball beautifully and @acuthbert11 cuts inside to finish the move 👏#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/waroTphSim
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 14, 2023
Ospreys grew in confidence and after a period of relentless pressure on the visitors’ line, opened the scoring as wing Cuthbert powered over from close range, full-back Evans adding the extras.
Montpellier responded on 26 minutes as lock Willemse crashed over, but Carbonel was off target again and Ospreys retained a slender lead.
That advantage was up to five points with half an hour played as Evan nudged a penalty, but Montpellier drew level through Willemse’s second score after a length TMO review.
Scrum-half Leo Coly couldn’t add the extras so the score remained 10-10, and Ospreys would take a lead into the break when Evans dispatched a second penalty in the final act of the first half.
Evans was on target again three minutes after the restart, but Montpellier found a third try when lock Chalureau squirmed over.
Coly hit the target with the conversion and the visitors went ahead for the first time, but their lead lasted just six minutes as Ospreys shifted the ball out to Cuthbert who dotted down for his second.
Montpellier responded with a fourth try as slick handling put centre Darmon over out wide, full-back Anthony Bouthier converting to re-establish their one-point lead.
But that advantage was short-lived again, with flanker Tipuric charging onto a kick from wing Keelan Giles before gathering brilliantly and sliding over the whitewash for Ospreys.
FAO: Warren Gatland
Tipuric at 🔟? Something to think about… 🤔
A deft kick to Keelan Giles on the wing before following the play and bullying the defender off the ball to score.
Leadership personified 💪#HeinekenChampionsCup | @ospreys pic.twitter.com/GgaMtZ51Vm
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 14, 2023
The gap was up to six points as Evans continued his 100% record from the tee, but Montpellier hit back again when replacement scrum-half Reinach wriggled over. However, Bouthier hooked the conversion wide, and Ospreys remained in front.
The home team’s leaders made a huge decision with three minutes to go when they opted to kick for the corner after earning a penalty in front of the posts, but they were duly rewarded when replacement lock Morris dotted down for the bonus-point try amid a driving maul.
Evans was off target for the first time on the night and left Ospreys with a precarious six-point lead, but they saw out the remaining moments and boosted their qualification hopes.
In Round 4, the final round of pool stage games, Ospreys visit Leicester Tigers on Friday and Montpellier host London Irish on Sunday.
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