GLASGOW duly got the win that keeps their European hopes hanging by a thread but they failed to land that all-important four-try bonus point and, at one stage, it looked like they might not even record a victory at all.
Scorers: Glasgow – Tries: van der Merwe (3). Cons: Russell (3). Montpellier – Try: Privat. Con: Lucas. Pen: Lucas.
The home team didn’t take the lead for good until the 57th minute when winger DTH van der Merwe scored the second of his hat-trick of tries.
Presumably there was not a greal deal of argument about who was to receive the man of the match award.
Glasgow were trailing at the break after throwing everything at an unexpectedly stuffy Montpellier defence.
The Warriors went into this game without their two frontline flankers and it showed. They conceded 19 turnovers in total, according to the official statistics.
Glasgow were poor in the opening half when the entire team were afflicted by white line fever, poor handling and dodgy decision making.
The problems were never more obvious than the final 15 minutes of the first half when they laid siege to the Montpellier line with a one-man advantage and still came away with nothing to show for all their efforts.
Montpellier undoubtedly showed some spirit, but Glasgow did much of the damage to themselves.
This match could have been all but dead and buried before half-time had the home side kicked their goals and built up a first-half lead from the umpteen penalty opportunities that came their way.
Instead, they continued the less than successful option of kicking to the corner for an attacking lineout, taking the set scrum or the quick tap. On one occasion, Finn Russell overcooked his kick, missed the corner and gave Montpellier an easy exit. It was just one of a plethora of mistakes by the home team.
They Warriors lost three lineout throws within touching distance of the opposition line and, when Montpellier lost prop Patric Cilliers to the sin bin on 33 minutes, they fared no better in the set scrum. Josh Strauss picked and drove close to the line. Jonny Gray picked and drove even closer but, when the ball was moved wide, Jon Welsh’s slapped pass fell into the hand of a waiting Montpellier defender.
The one time Glasgow strung some passes together without any mistakes they scored a cracker of a try.
The home side poached a bobbling ball at a Montpellier throw in the middle of the field and quick hands was all it took to give van der Merwe a run to the line – well, quick hands and a forward pass by Alex Dunbar to the scorer.
If things looked rosy for the home fans after that 13th-minute strike, things turned a shade darker when Peter Murchie was pinged for holding on to the ball in the breakdown.
Montpellier kicked for the corner and their big forward pack rumbled over the Glasgow line without much ado, skipper Thibaut Privat awarded the try.
Trailing by three points at the break thanks to Ben Lucas’s early penalty kick which separated the sides, Glasgow needed the first score but they were now playing into the second half breeze and it wasn’t proving easy.
Strauss failed to move the ball with unmarked men outside, Nakawara’s hands were unusually suspect and Seymour’s “Hail Mary” pass, just one of many on the day, fell into the arms of a grateful white shirt after the winger had done well to get away up the right flank.
On 53 minutes, Gregor Townsend had seen enough. He went to his bench and threw Henry Pyrgos, Fraser Brown and centre Mark Bennett – who was returning to the side after suffering a hamstring injury against New Zealand in November – into then action.
The gambit seemed to work. One penalty earned Glasgow an attacking lineout, another penalty, quickly taken, got them on to the front foot and Van der Merwe got his second try four minutes later, breaking a couple of tackles rather than utilise the two-man overlap outside him.
Russell’s conversion gave Glasgow a four-point lead but they were far from finished and, once again, Montpellier’s indiscipline rode to the rescue.
Russell kicked a long penalty to within five metres, Glasgow won the lineout and Gray again make huge strides towards the line.
Montpellier’s winger Luca Dupont jumped offside once too often and took a ten-minute rest in the bin.
Bennett stepped one way and then the other until, finally, Van der Merwe completed his hat-trick after breaking through another couple of tiring tackles.
There were ten minutes left for Glasgow to grab the bonus point. Pyrgos broke clear, only to be brought back for a previous knock on.
Bennett grubbered ahead and collected his own kick but, one phase later, Sean Maitland spilled the wrap-around pass with players lining up outside to score and Montpellier hacked downtown. It was nerve-shredding stuff but, on their final throw of the dice in the opposition’s 22, Glasgow were turned over at the breakdown. Not for the first time.
Glasgow: Muchie (Maitland 62), Seymour, Dunbar, Horne (Bennett 53), van der Merwe; Russell, Matawalu (Pyrgos 53); Grant, MacArthur (Brown 53), Welsh Cusack 76), Swinson (Eddie 55), Gray, Nakawara, Wilson, Strauss (Vernon 70).
Montpellier: Sicart, Artru, Ebersohon, Olivier, Dupont; Lucas (Selponi 72), Iribaren (Paillaugue 70), Watremez, Ivaldi (Bianchin 70), Cilliers, Tchale Watchou, Privat (Capt) Bias 76), Battut, Qera, Mowen.
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)