Harlequins 33 – 20 Montpellier

Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 second leg – Friday: Leinster 56-20 (82-41) Connacht, Bristol 29-35 (39-44) Sale; Saturday: Harlequins 33-20 (59-60) Montpellier, Munster vs Exeter, La Rochelle vs Bordeaux, Leicester vs Clermont, Ulster vs Toulouse; Sunday: Racing 92 – Stade Français

Last update: 04/16/22 15:17

Harlequins and England playmaker Marcus Smith missed a late conversion to earn the tie

Marcus Smith suffered the misery of the missed conversion as Harlequins failed to recover despite Montpellier’s 33-20 victory over the Champions Cup opponents.

Les Quins and the England fly-half pulled off a simple conversion attempt from winger Louis Lyangh’s 75th-minute try, and Montpellier won the knockout round clash 60-59 on aggregate.

The English champions, 14 points behind after last weekend’s first leg where they were trailing 34-0 at one point, were looking to secure a place in Europe’s last eight for the first time since 2013.

They were to conjure up memories of Gallagher Premiership’s stunning win over Bristol last season, when Quins trailed 28 points before winning after extra time.

First-half tries from full-back Huw Jones, number 8 Alex Dombrandt, center Joe Marchant and Lynagh – all converted by Smith – underscored Quins’ appetite for another memorable turnover.

Montpellier, leader of the French Top 14, remained in contention thanks to the test center Yvan Reilhac and the back Julien Tisseron.

Fly-half Louis Forsans kicked in two conversions and a penalty, while South African World Cup winner Handre Pollard added a penalty to edge past Montpellier.

Quins showed a lonely change from last weekend’s loss, with flanker Will Evans favored over Tom Lawday in the back row.

Montpellier boss Philippe Saint-André, however, made 13 changes, including South Africa’s World Cup-winning fly-half Pollard lined up inside the center and Bath’s former number eight , Zach Mercer – a performer of two tries six days ago – on the bench.

It took just 33 seconds for Quins to open his account as they struck on their first visit to Montpellier’s 22.

Dombrandt closed a huge gap in the Montpellier defence, and his pass sent an unmarked Jones sprinting for a try which Smith converted.

Pollard missed a long-range penalty chance to open the account for Montpellier, but the visitors were level after 11 minutes when Forsans’ clean break was rewarded with a fine finish from Reilhac.

Pollard’s conversion tied things up, only for Quins to score on their next attack as the quickly recycled possession produced enough space for a try from Dombrandt, again converted by Smith.

Montpellier remained firmly in the game, however, and a Forsans penalty reduced their deficit midway through the second quarter and underscored the scale of Quins’ task.

Quins then scored a superb third down after a lengthy move started by Smith.

Quins scored five tries on the day but conceded 20 points

Quins scored five tries on the day but conceded 20 points

He could have taken a safe option of hitting on touchdown, but he opted to run instead, before sending winger Cadan Murley clear, and he delivered a goal pass which Marchant gratefully accepted.

Smith added the extras again as Quins looked to take the lead, but Montpellier hit back eight minutes before half-time when Tisseron landed after more impressive work from Foursans, who added the conversion and took the score to 21-17.

But a breathless first half had one more try to deliver, and it was Quins who pounced for the fourth time.

A solid attacking scrimmage provided exactly the platform they needed and Lynagh scored in the corner, with Smith’s sideline conversion giving Quins an 11-point lead at the interval.

Quins couldn’t add to his tally in the third quarter, and a Pollard penalty meant Montpellier had a six-point aggregate advantage with 25 minutes remaining.

But Quins besieged the Montpellier line during a period of concerted scrum pressure as a thrilling encounter entered its final leg.

Louis Lynagh attempted a late try which looked likely to secure Quins progress

Louis Lynagh attempted a late try which looked likely to secure Quins progress

Referee Mike Adamson was lenient on the French side, opting not to show a yellow card as they conceded eight in a row, but his patience then broke and replacement hooker Jeremie Maurouard was booked .

Smith then pounced for what appeared to be Quins’ fifth try, but Jones was penalized for crossing and Montpellier escaped as time ran out.

Lynagh then drove the crowd crazy when he claimed his second try with five minutes left, but Smith’s missed conversion gave Montpellier the win.

Sky Sports

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