Leinster 24-17 Montpellier: Irish province secure bonus-point Round 1 victory
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 15/10/17 3:07pm
Leinster started their Champions Cup campaign in ideal fashion by registering a bonus-point 24-17 victory over high-flying Montpellier in Dublin, although they made heavy weather of it.
First-half tries from full-back Joey Carbery and openside Josh van der Flier and second-half efforts from man-of-the-match Robbie Henshaw and Barry Daly saw them over the line.
Montpellier's Nemani Nadolo crashed over for two tries in either half as the Top 14 outfit threatened to leave the RDS with a draw in the closing stages.
Wing Adam Byrne was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on with five minutes to go, with Leinster perhaps fortunate to avoid a penalty try.
Leo Cullen's side next travel to face Glasgow in a week's time, live on Sky Sports Action, while Montpellier host Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs.
A scrappy start to proceedings saw Montpellier slightly edge things before Carbery put a ropy individual start behind him to cross for the opening try.
The full-back, who had dropped two simple balls in his own 22 and kicked poorly in the opening 20 minutes, received the ball from fly-half Ross Byrne and burned through a gap in the Montpellier defence past Nadolo and Francois Steyn to finish superbly.
Byrne was unlucky in his conversion attempt which faded just wide of the post, but six minutes later Leinster were over again through Van der Flier.
Noticeably upping their tempo and intensity, Leinster stormed through the phases as Montpellier struggled to live with the Irish side.
Ross and Adam Byrne, Isa Nacewa, Barry Daly, Carbery, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock and Luke McGrath were all heavily involved in a period of relentless pace and pressure culminating in Van der Flier barrelling over for a 12-0 lead.
Two minutes from the half Montpellier got themselves back into it as Nadolo, having been ruled short moments earlier by referee Wayne Barnes, picked up a loose ball to dive over. Ruan Pienaar's conversion left the half-time score 12-7.
Leinster started the second half with the same level of intensity and four minutes in they were gifted a third score as Jesse Mogg dropped a Byrne cross-kick straight into the path of centre Henshaw who could not fail to run it in.
Henshaw then produced an incredible piece of defending to stop Nadolo powering through again, ripping the ball from Pienaar and regaining possession as he did so.
Nadolo was not to be denied six minutes later though, as he picked up after a Pienaar snipe, manhandled Luke McGrath out of the way and powered past the attentions of Noel Reid and Ruddock, with Montpellier starting to dominate things.
Leinster bagged their bonus-point score minutes later though, as after Nadolo was harshly adjudged to have taken a man without the ball by assistant referee JP Doyle, Leinster produced a set-piece move which saw Daly finish brilliantly in the corner.
A successful Pienaar penalty with 10 minutes to go reduced the deficit to one score, and when Adam Byrne was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on with five minutes to go a grandstand finish looked on.
Leinster defended manfully in the closing stages, however, as they just about kept the Top 14 side out.