Heineken European Champions Cup: Gloucester 29-6 Montpellier

Louis Rees-Zammit claimed his ninth try of the season having scored five in December
Champions Cup Pool 5
Gloucester (7) 29
Tries: Heinz, Rees-Zammit, Morgan, Gleave Cons: Twelvetrees 3 Pen: Twelvetrees
Montpellier (3) 6
Pens: Steyn, Darmon

Gloucester kept alive hope of reaching the Champions Cup knockout stages with a bonus-point victory over Montpellier.

The hosts had to win to stay in contention for one of the three best runner-up spots and led 7-3 at half-time after a Willi Heinz try.

Louis Rees-Zammit, Ben Morgan and Todd Gleave then crossed in the second half.

Gloucester must win their final pool game at leaders Toulouse next Sunday to have a chance of going through with the French side.

Eddie Jones was among the crowd at Kingsholm and the England coach watched Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani hobble off after just 12 minutes, with Owen Williams coming on for just his second appearance in 10 months after returning from a knee injury in last week’s win over Bath.

Although the hosts dominated territory in the first half, they struggled to get to grips with the windy conditions and were penalised for holding on at the breakdown on 20 minutes, with Francois Steyn kicking from just short of halfway for Montpellier, who are bottom of Pool 5 and have won just one of their previous five matches in all competitions.

With Montpellier’s Henry Immelman down injured, Gloucester failed to take advantage as they threw a forward pass, but moments later teenage wing Rees-Zammit came inside to burst into a gap and make a one-handed offload over his shoulder to the supporting Heinz, who eased over for a 32nd-minute try.

Ulster (17) are the only second-placed team with more points than Gloucester, before Pool 4 leaders Racing 92 host Munster on Sunday

A loose pass by back row Lewis Ludlow saw the hosts spurn the chance to claim a second try before the interval, but with Montpellier having lost three men to injury in the first half, Gloucester were able to secure the bonus-point win they craved.

An Ollie Thorley break right at the start of the second half put the visitors on the back foot and they strayed offside, with Billy Twelvetrees taking the chance to extend Gloucester’s lead with a penalty.

A line-out on the left wing then allowed Gloucester to attack the Montpellier line on 49 minutes and the ball swept through the hands of Twelvetrees and Williams before Jason Woodward tapped it on for the in-form Rees-Zammit to slide over for his ninth try of the season.

Twelvetrees hit a post with his conversion attempt before Thomas Darmon cut the deficit with a penalty, but Morgan and Gleave then burrowed over to ensure a comfortable finish for the hosts.

‘We’ll go down there and give it our best shot’

Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann told BT Sport: “There’s a lot of character in the group and it’s great to see the growth of the team, that they’re taking in messages and implementing them.

“You have to have that patience, to trust they [the opposition] can’t keep it up and holes will open up. We made mistakes in the first half which weren’t good enough but credit to the players for staying composed and implementing it [the game plan] in the second half.

“We don’t do it on purpose, but I’d love to see the team when we can play well in the first half as well.”

On still being able to qualify after losing three pool games: “It’s bizarre, but that’s the great thing about this game, it keeps you humble the whole time and it’s a nice challenge for the players to go down there and try to get that win. We’ll see who’s fit and give it our best shot.”

Teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit on his recent form: “It’s all come quite quick but I’m over the moon and we’ll look forward to Toulouse next week. We’re ready to take them on and get into the quarter-finals.”

Gloucester: Woodward; Rees-Zammit, Harris, Twelvetrees, Thorley; Cipriani, Heinz (capt); Rapava Ruskin, Gleave, Knight, Grobler, Mostert, Ackermann, Ludlow, Morgan.

Replacements: Williams for Cipriani (12), Clarke for Morgan (63), Craig for Mostert (67), Simpson for Heinz (67), Seville for Rapava Ruskin (69), Atkinson for Twelvetrees (69), Walker for Gleave (71).

Not Used: Hohneck.

Montpellier: Steyn; Randle, Goosen, Serfontein, Immelman; Darmon, Fotuali’i; Tcheisvhili, Giudicelli, Guillamon, Le Devedec, Mikautadze, Galletier, Bardy, Du Plessis.

Replacements: Layglon for Immelman (30), Kornath for Bardy (34), Azariashvili for Guillamon (34), Delhommel for Giudicelli (59), Willemse for Le Devedec (59), Aprasidze for Randle (61), Pollard for Fotuali’i (67), Seille for Mikautadze (75).

Sin Bin: Willemse (64).

Ref: Frank Murphy (Ireland).

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