Heineken Cup: Cardiff Blues lose to Montpellier at Cardiff Arms Park
Cardiff had their Heineken Cup hopes ended after falling to a third straight Pool Six loss at the hands of Montpellier.
Last Updated: 14/12/12 5:58pm
Teenage fly-half Rhys Patchell slotted seven penalties and a drop goal for the home side, who had scrum-half Lloyd Williams sent off after 25 minutes for a tip tackle on opposite number Benoit Paillaugue.
Pierre Berard, Mamuka Gorgodze and Timoci Nagusa all crossed for Montpellier, with the classy Paillaugue kicking 20 points.
The injury-ravaged Blues, without Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Bradley Davies, did make a good fist of the opening quarter against a Montpellier side resting several of their first-choice names and Patchell had the hosts on the board inside four minutes with a penalty.
An emphatic drive from the Montpellier pack allowed Paillaugue to slot a monster 50-metre penalty, and another strong shove gave the scrum-half his second three-pointer after Patchell had briefly put the hosts back in front.
Patchell replied with another penalty to make it 9-6 at the end of a scrappy opening quarter but the Blues' hopes were dealt a major blow when Wales international Williams was dismissed after lifting opposite number Paillaugue and dropping him on to the back of his neck after the ball had squirted out of a Blues scrum.
Paillaugue dusted himself down to level the scores from the resulting penalty, only for Patchell to again respond, this time with a well-taken drop goal.
But the home side's numerical disadvantage soon told as Montpellier built patiently through the phases to work an overlap on the left for wing Berard to cross, a try that helped the visitors lead 19-15 at the break.
Patchell slotted over a huge three-pointer from almost his own 10-yard line to cut the gap to one but Paillaugue re-established the four-point lead with his latest penalty and the French side's second try followed with 14 minutes to go as Gorgodze stretched out to dot down through the ruck.
The hosts battled gamely and Patchell quickly slotted another two penalties to get the Blues back to within three points but Paillaugue steadied any French nerves before replacement wing Nagusa sealed the win by finishing smartly in the corner.