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Nemani Nadolo has called on Montpellier to make amends for the hammering at the hands of Leinster and keep their slim European Rugby Champions Cup quarter-final hopes alive.
Francois Steyn’s 15th minute red card after a reckless on Johnny Sexton paved way for the Irish province to claim a 57-3 triumph at the RDS. Jake White’s side are out for revenge against the Saints after Stephen Myler kicked a late penalty to snatch a 16-14 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
And Fijian giant Nadolo wants to restore some pride in the jersey as they welcome Northampton to the Altrad Stadium in their final Pool 4 game against Northampton Saints.
He said: “We have to play for the jersey, because we were ashamed last weekend, and we did not give the true image of what our club is. We must redeem ourselves on Friday.
“Leinster are one of the best teams in Europe, if not the world at the moment, but I do not think that Friday’s result reflects the gap between us and the European level. That was not us, and next weekend we will make up for that. There is pride in this team.”
Montpellier, who won the Challenge Cup last year, can still qualify for the next round of Europe, but will need a bonus-point win over the Saints and hope results elsewhere across the weekend go their way.
The French side are second in Pool 4 with 11 points, whilst Northampton are at the bottom after a dismal campaign which has seen them ship 173 points, with only Italian outfit Zebre shipping more.
But Saints hooker Charlie Clare insists his team will give it their all when they travel to Montpellier.
He said: “In my opinion, every time you play you’re judged as a character and you want to go out there and do the best you can so no game should be seen as one that you can write off.
“We’ll go out there and give it everything but it means that you can play a different way with a bit less pressure, which is all for the better, you get to play an exciting brand of rugby so let’s hope that can happen.”
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Northampton Saints went down to their fourth defeat in six Champions Cup pool matches as they were beaten by a Montpellier side inspired by giant Fiji wing Nemani Nadolo.
Nadolo created one score and crossed for two individual efforts of his own with the Saints unable to cope with his raw power in the contact area.
Tries from Kelian Galletier and Jacques Du Plessis came either side of Nadolo’s first to put the home side in command and when the man of the match completed his brace late on, his team were home and hosed.
Demetri Catrakilis added three conversions as visiting tries from Lee Dickson and Tom Kessell were their last two scores of a European campaign to forget. Montpellier’s bonus-point success means they can still qualify for the quarter-finals as one of the three best runners-up, if results go their way on Saturday.
Northampton, who have had a nightmare Champions Cup experience, made nine changes with a place in the quarter-finals well beyond them and it was Montpellier who started the game with a bang. Nadolo’s power game is well known, but on this occasion it was his precision passing which gave his team an early lead.
Attracting three Northampton tacklers, Nadolo bounced one and then offloaded out of the tackle with a sublime flick to release Galletier to score in the corner. Catrakilis added the extras.
At that stage the Saints were up against it, but after Montpellier lost Alexandre Dumoulin to injury and failed to make the most of their possession, Jim Mallinder’s men hit back.
From a scrum, powerful surges from Teimana Harrison and Ethan Waller splintered the French defence, allowing scrum-half and captain Dickson to sneak over from close range. JJ Hanrahan converted and then kicked a penalty and despite being under the cosh for the opening quarter, Saints turned around with a 10-7 half-time lead.
Mallinder’s side thought they had added to their advantage at the start of the second period too. A set-piece move saw Ahsee Tuala break clear. The full-back sprinted for the line and found George North inside him, but after referee John Lacey consulted the TMO, the score was ruled out for Tuala’s foot in touch.
Harry Mallinder then put a monster drop goal effort wide, before Nadolo continued to wreak more havoc.
Given the ball tight to the touchline, Nadolo looked a long way from the line but he bounced off five tacklers – North the last – to power to the line for a score eerily similar to that by the late Jonah Lomu against England at the 1995 World Cup.
That score was followed by a driving line-out try for replacement Du Plessis and with Catrakilis converting both efforts, Northampton were now up against it at 21-10 down. Montepellier didn’t let up their assault as they chased the vital bonus-point score and Nadolo powered over from a scrum to seal the win late on.
Catrakilis missed the conversion and Kessell grabbed a late consolation, converted by Hanrahan, but it’s Montpellier who will now have to wait and see if they make Europe’s last eight while Northampton concentrate solely on domestic action.