Relieved Ryan Lamb lands a priceless drop-goal
Outcome of Pool 5 is likely to hinge on Ulster’s visit to Leicester next month
Ryan Lamb and team-mate Dan Bowden after their victory against Montpellier at Welford Road. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
These continue to be fluctuating days in European rugby politics and it is a similar story out on the field. Leicester had victory all but secure inside the first 15 minutes, twice allowed Montpellier a potential escape route and ended up grateful for a last-gasp drop-goal from Ryan Lamb that could save them from the pool qualification chop. This tournament may be endangered but it is never dull.
No one will be more relieved than Lamb, who had been on the field a mere handful of minutes and had just committed a head-clutching error, failing to clear the ball to touch close to his own line and presenting the visitors with priceless turnover ball. A fourth visiting try scored by the replacement Pierre Berard followed to drag a suddenly re-energised Montpellier back within six points with one final kick-off reception to come.
Up soared the ball
Up soared the ball into the dark sky and the home supporters fell abruptly silent. The man standing beneath it was Timoci Nagusa, the Fijian wing who had been a recurring threat all afternoon. If anyone could rampage 80 metres to steal victory this was assuredly the man.
Instead the ball ricocheted straight off his chest back into Leicester hands and Lamb gratefully dropped his scudding low goal to deny Montpellier a crucial second bonus point.
On such margins are European seasons made or broken.
It all contributed to an enjoyable eight-try thriller, precisely the kind of cultural blur that will be sorely missed if there is no pan-European competition next season.
The outcome of Pool 5 is likely to hinge on Ulster’s visit to Leicester next month. with Montpellier needing to win all three of their remaining games to progress.