Reigning champions of Europe's elite club competition, Leinster, travelled to Montpellier and faced the tournament newcomers at the Stade de la Mosson. Two early penalties from both sides got the scoreboard rolling with the score at 3-3.
Late in the first quarter Sexton added another penalty, giving Leinster the lead over the tournament rookies. France world cup star, Francois Trinh-Duc, showed real class early on and assisted his side in a sustained Montpellier attack. But they fumbled the ball forwards and Heaslip countered, making ground for Leinster.
A fantastic display of hands by the visiting side couldn’t be finished as a Sexton kick to Fitzgerald wasn’t accurate enough. Montpellier showed their strength and countered the attack, Amorisino chased his own kick and offloaded to oncoming Ouedraogo who went over for the opening try. Paillaugue converted giving Montpellier a 13-6 lead.
The remainder of the half was quiet for both sides and the half time score was 13-6.
The 2nd half score remained the same for the most part but a Montpellier penalty after about an hour of play extended their lead to 10 points. Both sides glimpsed at try-scoring opportunities in the second half but none were fully completed, making the chance of an early upset ever more likely.
No cracks showed in either sides defence and some incredible tackles came from Montpellier. Sexton kicked for territory on the 62 minute mark and the initial lineout from Montpellier was fumbled into touch by the home team. Leinster took the following lineout and Leo Cullen was pulled down by the Montpellier pack giving Sexton a penalty scoring opportunity. The Ireland fly-half missed and the European champions still trailed by ten points.
However, Leinster sustained their attacking prowess as replacement hooker, Cronin, went over for a try. This time Sexton did convert and Montpellier's lead was narrowed to 3 points.
Leinster made yet another powerful attack on the home sides line but the ball came loose and Montpellier cleared the ball away, with five minutes left it was all to play for.
Sexton scored the crucial penalty in the last minute of the game amid jeers from the French crowd. It rounded off a fantastic round 1 performance by both the champions and the rookies.
Scrum Five Man of the Match: Francois Trinh-Duc
HT Score: 13-6
FT Score: 16-16