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Exeter seek Montpellier hat-trick

Friday 31st March 2023

9:00 am (GMT)

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Exeter seek Montpellier hat-trick

Henry Slade, the Exeter Chiefs centre, scores his side's first try in the Heineken Champions Cup Pool A match against Castres Olympique at Sandy Park in Round 4

Exeter Chiefs will be hoping they can continue their previous outstanding home form against Montpellier Hérault Rugby in their Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 clash at Sandy Park on Sunday.

The Gallagher Premiership side have run up more than 40 points against them on both their previous meetings in Devon – in the 2017/18 and 2021/22 pool stages.

They qualified for a home tie this time by finishing second in Pool A, losing only once, in Round 3 to Vodacom Bulls, whom they hammered 44-14 in Round 2. They also completed the double over Castres Olympique.

Meanwhile, Montpellier reached the Round of 16 by finishing seventh of the eight qualifiers from Pool B, a 32-17 win at London Irish and a 21-21 draw with the Premiership club sandwiching a shock double loss to Ospreys.

The match kicks off at 12:30 (UK & Irish time) and can be watched on ITV, BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.

Key quote

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter: “We have to have a good look at each other because we are killing each other. I am at that stage when I am almost thinking we have got to change the personnel.”

Exeter Chiefs

  • Exeter have made the fewest kicks in play in the tournament, an average of just 19 per 80 minutes. However, a competition-high 30% of their restarts have been retained.
  • The Chiefs have scored as many tries as any other team from tap penalties (four).
  • Exeter have the highest rate of tackle dominance in the Heineken Champions Cup (10%).

Montpellier Hérault Rugby

  • Zach Mercer has played every minute of the Heineken Champions Cup this season (320), made the most carries (78) and topped the carry count in Round 4 (25).
  • Louis Carbonel (23) and Thomas Darmon (20) are Montpellier’s leading points-scorers.
  • Anthony Boutier has made the most kicks in play for Montpellier and the most break assists (three).

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Yeandle heroics as Exeter beat 14-man Montpellier after extra time

Sunday 2nd April 2023

3:25 pm (GMT)

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Yeandle heroics as Exeter beat 14-man Montpellier after extra time

Exeter’s Jack Yeandle celebrates his last-gasp try against Montpellier

Hooker Jack Yeandle crossed in the final play of extra time to send Exeter Chiefs into the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals on tries scored as they drew 33-33 with 14-man Montpellier Hérault Rugby at Sandy Park on Sunday.

The veteran dotted down after 100 minutes of drama, Joe Simmonds’ conversion drawing Exeter level and seeing them progress – they scored five tries to Montpellier’s four. The win sees Exeter host DHL Stormers in the quarter-finals next weekend.

Scores from Scott Sio, Sam Simmonds, Tom Wyatt and Josh Iosefa-Scott looked to have been enough for the 2020 champions in normal time, but Paolo Garbisi’s penalty for Montpellier levelled the scores at the death – the Italian tallied 13 points during the contest.

Montpellier crossed twice inside the opening 10 minutes, through Curtis Langdon and Vincent Rattez, and although Zach Mercer was sent off in the second half, the TOP 14 side got over again through Lenni Nouchi.

The visitors looked to have snatched an incredible victory in extra time when Louis Carbonel crossed, but Yeandle was on hand to cross in dramatic fashion for Exeter.

It was a worrying start for Exeter as Montpellier went over twice early on – replacement hooker Langdon powered over before wing Rattez finished off a flowing move in the corner.

Fly-half Garbisi converted the first score to leave the gap at 12 points, but Exeter grew into the game and eventually forced their way over through prop Sio after good work from hooker Dan Frost.

No.8 Sam Simmonds then notched Exeter’s second on 34 minutes with another close-range finish, the hosts’ pressure also seeing Montpellier flanker Masivesi Dakuwaqa sent to the sin bin.

With a man advantage and the lead thanks to Joe Simmonds’ two conversions, it looked a healthy situation for Exeter as the clock ticked down to half time, but Montpellier responded well and as they pushed for a third score, centre Henry Slade was shown yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

Garbisi slotted the resulting penalty to put Montpellier 15-14 up at the break but there would be contrasting emotions for their No.8 Mercer at the start of the second half.

The Englishman looked to have scored his side’s third try when he crashed through Tom Wyatt to finish in the corner, but the TMO spotted an off-the-ball block in the build-up and moments later, Mercer was dismissed for a high tackle on Exeter flanker Christ Tshiunza.

Garbisi kicked a penalty to extend Montpellier’s lead to four points but Exeter piled on the pressure with an extra man and young full-back Wyatt produced a terrific finish on his EPCR debut to hand them the lead.

Chiefs then forced their way over for a fourth time on 64 minutes when replacement prop Iosefa-Scott planted down from close range, Joe Simmonds’ extras widening the gap to eight points.

But Montpellier continued to look dangerous with ball in hand, and after the TMO ruled out another score from them, replacement back-row forward Nouchi finished off a flowing move to reduce the deficit to three points.

And Exeter couldn’t see out the remaining two minutes, conceding a penalty deep into overtime, which Garbisi duly dispatched from 45 metres to level the scores at 26-26 and force extra time.

It was a nervy additional period and Montpellier, undeterred by the numerical disadvantage, continued to cause Exeter problems.

The visitors looked to have snatched an improbable win when replacement fly-half Carbonel darted over and Garbisi converted with seven minutes to play.

But Yeandle, who was held up over the line in the first period of extra time, made no mistake in the final seconds as he barreled across the whitewash, Joe Simmonds nervelessly striking the conversion through the uprights.

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