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Exeter aim to complete Montpellier hat-trick

Thursday 9th December 2021

2:00 pm (GMT)

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Exeter aim to complete Montpellier hat-trick

Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Hill attempts to burst through two Racing 92 tackles in the Heineken Champions Cup

Montpellier Hérault Rugby travel to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday looking for their first-ever Heineken Champions Cup win over the English side.

Their only previous meetings in the competition came in the 2017/18 pool stage, with Chiefs winning home and away.

Kick-off in the Pool A match-up at Sandy Park is at 20:00 and you can watch on BT Sport and beIN SPORTS.

Other key facts:

  • Montpellier did beat Exeter in Europe previously – getting wins home and away in the 2010/11 EPCR Challenge Cup.
  • Exeter have not lost a home game in the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup since December 2018, a streak of five matches.
  • Exeter scored 16 tries in the Heineken Champions Cup last season, with nine different players crossing the line, including wing Tom O’Flaherty and lock Jonny Hill with three apiece. Only Racing 92 notched more tries with 19.
  • Montpellier won the Challenge Cup last season for the second time, following their victory in 2015/16. Wasps are the only side so far to ever win the Challenge Cup and then the Heineken Champions Cup the following season. They managed it in 2002/03 and 2003/04.

Key quote:

Rob Baxter (Exeter director of rugby): ““If we don’t get hugely excited about the Montpellier home game, we’ll lose. And there’s no point thinking about where we might go or what the season might be about because it’ll slowly not mean anything.”

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Gray hat-trick lifts Exeter over Montpellier

Saturday 11th December 2021

10:33 pm (GMT)

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Gray hat-trick lifts Exeter over Montpellier

Exeter Chiefs' Jonny Gray scoring one of the three tries that made him the first lock to notch a hat-trick in the Heineken Champions Cup

Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Gray notched a second half hat-trick as the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners routed Montpellier Herault Rugby 42-6 at Sandy Park.

The Chiefs scored 42 unanswered points – including 35 in the second half – as Stuart Hogg, Sam Simmonds and Don Armond dotted down in addition to Gray’s trio of tries.

Montpellier had led 6-0 after the opening 20 minutes – and trailed by just a single point at the break – but a relentless closing 40 minutes secured the Pool A triumph for the hosts.

The visitors – missing several key names through both injury and international rest – began the game on the front foot and earned a third minute penalty. Teenage fly-half Louis Foursans called his shot, slotting his first European points through the uprights.

Foursans added a second penalty with 10 minutes on the clock as the visitors pinned Exeter in their own 22 during the opening salvos.

Midway through the first half Exeter kicked into life, a sustained spell of pressure resulted in the opening try of the contest.

After what seemed endless phases of brute force from the forwards, Exeter changed tack and swiftly moved the ball to the right flank. Hogg juked four defenders in one delightful step to open up a free run to the whitewash – the Scotland international dotting down with ease.

Joe Simmonds added the extras to give the hosts a one-point lead at the interval.

Whatever was said at half time riled the Chiefs as they scored within 120 seconds of the re-start – Gray notching his first of the evening with a close-range finish.

Gray added his second ten minutes later, Montpellier unable to resist the Chiefs’ power game – another close-range finish onto the lock’s resumé.

The hat-trick followed on the hour mark, a quickly taken Luke Cowan-Dickie penalty allowed Gray to power over. The decision was referred to the TMO, with the on-field decision of try upheld.

By now it was all Exeter and 2020 EPCR European Player of the Year Sam Simmonds dotted down the team’s fifth try, set up by the mazy run of Jack Nowell.

The sixth try came in added time, replacement Don Armond completing the rout with another close-range finish.

Exeter travel to Glasgow Warriors in round two next Saturday, while Montpellier host four-time European Cup winners Leinster Rugby at the GGL Stadium on Friday.

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