MONTPELLIER STRENGTHENED their claim to a Heineken Cup quarter-final berth tonight with a bonus point win away to Sale Sharks.
The Top 14 side were made to wait for the crucial fourth try of the 27-6 victory.
Yohann Artru and Johnnie Beattie touched down in the first half to give the southern French side a 12-6 lead at half time. Danny Cipriani chipping in with the Sharks’ two penalties.
There was more dominance after the break for the visitors and the 48th minute try from Pierre Bérard made a fourth try seem only a matter of time.
It was, but against Richie Gray’s pack it was a longer time than expected. Three minutes from the end, Montpellier’s greater strength in depth proved telling as the visiting eight forced a penalty try.
The result leaves Montpelier with 18 points from five games. They sit second in Pool 6, level on points with Toulon who they play in Montpellier next week. Toulon remain firmly in the driving seat and could ascend to 23 points with a big win at home to Cardiff Blues on Saturday.
In Pool 4, Ulster came up just short of a bonus point in a mixed display against Glasgow Warriors, but have qualified for the quarter-final stage of the European Cup for the third year on the trot thanks to the result at Franklin’s Gardens.
Northampton defeated Castres 18-12 to leave them second in Pool 4, five points shy of Ireland’s northern province.
The Saints needed to better Ulster’s result to be in with a shout of topping the pool, but with four tries needed, none were scored. Instead three penalties apiece from Steve Myler and Ryan Lamb were enough for four points.
Castres scrum-half Rory Kockott kicked his team’s four penalties, but also missed one and a drop goal which proved the difference in the end.