Williams' red card proves the tipping point for Cardiff
Cardiff Blues 24 Montpellier 35
Cardiff Arms Park
Monday 10 December 2012
Phil Davies questioned Lloyd Williams' first-half red card after Cardiff Blues crashed out of Europe with a third straight defeat. The Wales scrum-half was given his marching orders only 25 minutes into this showdown after making a dangerous tip-tackle.
The 14-man Blues put in a brave and spirited performance but it was not enough as Montpellier capitalised on the numerical advantage to keep their Pool Six hopes alive.
Yoan Audrin scampered over for the first try just five minutes after Williams was sent for an early shower, and the French outfit added two more through Mamuka Gorgodze and Timoci Nagusa after the break. Davies, the Cardiff Blues director of rugby, was frustrated by Irish referee John Lacey's decision, but praised his side's fighting spirit. "I'm not sure it was the right decision. It was a bit of a rustic challenge; I think we will contest it but we will have to have another look," he said.
"The way we adjusted and played after that was really pleasing. Overall, I thought the effort and determination was fantastic."
Cardiff went into the encounter deprived of 10 players, including their Wales trio Bradley Davies, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny; they were dealt a further blow when openside flanker Sam Warburton was forced to pull out with a chest infection.
However, Cardiff fought superbly, and the boot of the impressive teenager Rhys Patchell kept them in touch until the last 10 minutes. It was not enough, though. Davies added: "For a guy who is just 19, Rhys was outstanding today. He stood out because of his maturity, his goal-kicking is excellent and his kicking out of hand is pretty good, too. He has a great temperament, a great skill-set and a fantastic work ethic."
The fly-half, making his first Heineken Cup appearance, booted the Blues into the lead after just two minutes, but Montpellier responded on 10 minutes when Benoît Paillaugue hit back after the giant French pack flexed their muscles up front.
However, the contest took a major turn for the worse for the hosts when Williams was sent off. The ball squirted out of a Blues scrum, Paillaugue pounced and Williams flipped his opposite number on to his head with an unintentional but reckless tip-tackle.
The incident brought memories of Wales' World Cup heartbreak in Auckland flooding back as once again a Welshman, a Frenchman and an Irishman combined to produce a devastating red card.
Paillaugue slotted the ensuing penalty, forcing the fired-up Blues to storm back with a drop-goal from the nerveless Patchell. But it did not take long for Montpellier to capitalise on their numerical advantage and, after attacking with gusto down the right, the ball was spread to the opposite wing where Thomas Combezou sent Audrin flying over. Paillaugue kicked the touchline conversion and added a penalty, after Patchell responded with three points of his own, to hand his side a narrow 19-15 lead at the interval.
Patchell continued his impressive form with the boot , landing a monster penalty but Montpellier quickly struck with a second try: Paillaugue and Santiago Fernandez combined to make the initial inroads and Gorgodze eventually drove over from close range.
Patchell responded once again for the home team, kicking his seventh penalty, but the diminutive French scrum-half put the result beyond doubt before Nagusa rubbed further salt into Welsh wounds.
Scorers: Cardiff Blues: Penalties: Patchell 7; Drop-goal Patchell. Montpellier: Tries Audrin, Gorgodze, Nagusa; Conversion Paillaugue; Penalties Paillaugue 6.
Cardiff Blues: J Tovey (L Jones 40); A Cuthbert, G Evans, D Hewitt, H Robinson (O Williams 66); R Patchell, L Williams; S Hobbs (T Filise 57), M Breeze (R Williams 57), S Andrews (B Bourrust 63), L Reed, J Down, R Copeland (L Hamilton 66), A Pretorius (capt), J Navidi.
Montpellier: B Thiery (T Nagusa 56); Y Audrin, T Combezou, P Bosch, P Berard; S Fernandez, B Paillaugue; M Nariashvili (Y Watremez 50), A Creevy (E Van Vuuren 50), M Bustos (B Fa'amausili 73), D Hancke(M De Marco 62), A Fakate, A Bias (K Galletier 66), M Gorgodze (capt), J Beattie.
Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).
Arsenal have no plans to stock Petr Cech inspired caps in their club shops - yet
Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United: Saints yet to receive 'serious offer' but midfielder could complete move by end of this week
Radamel Falcao to Chelsea: Former Manchester United striker 'signs contract' to join Blues and is told to meet up with squad on pre-season tour
Venezuelan TV host gets completely naked while reporting on Copa America win over Colombia
Manchester United transfer news: Javier Hernandez nears exit as Liverpool eye move for striker despite revealing Real Madrid video
- 1 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?