Battling Blues go down in Montpellier
Montpellier kept their Heineken Cup hopes alive with a convincing 34-21 win over Cardiff Blues at Stade Yves du Manoir.
The French club battled to a hard-fought win over the 14-man Blues last week, but their victory was far more emphatic on home soil.
Sam Warburton gave the Blues the perfect start but Montpellier responded with tries from Timoci Nagusa, Rassie Van Vuuren and Yoan Audrin.
Alex Cuthbert hit back but Johnnie Beattie sealed the victory and bonus point with his touchdown on 58 minutes.
Cardiff director of rugby Phil Davies made five changes to the side that crashed to a 35-24 defeat last week. Warburton returned from illness and Lewis Jones started at scrum-half, replacing the suspended Lloyd Williams.
But the Welsh region lost two more players before kick-off with both Lou Reed and Marc Breze dropping out of the squad - Reed due to his father Robert's death.
The Blues players wore black armbands and a minute's silence was held as a mark of respect and the emotionally charged side made a quick start.
Rhys Patchell missed an early shot at goal but Warburton pounced for an opportunist try with just four minutes on the clock.
From a five-metre lineout Van Vuuren missed his man, with the ball falling to Warburton to dive over.
Patchell was again off-target and Martin Bustos Moyano responded with his side's first points to bring the hosts within two points.
The 19-year-old fly-half restored the Blues' cushion but Montpellier began to take control of the encounter.
Only some superb defence from Cuthbert forced Tomici Nagusa to touch down out of play following a sweeping backs move, but the Fijian quickly got his try.
The attacker was tackled but not held by Gavin Evans and jumped back up to race over.
Bustos Moyano slotted the conversion and the French outfit turned the screw on their rivals.
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Patchell fired a long-range penalty wide and Nagusa launched a scintillating counter-attack.
That provided the platform for Montpellier to manufacture their second try. The Welsh region hung on following a succession of five-metre scrums but the pressure eventually told.
Van Vuuren was the beneficiary, as he pivoted at the back of a ruck to twist out of Andries Pretorius' tackle to score.
Again Bustos Moyano added the extras to establish a 17-8 lead, which they hung onto at the interval.
Montpellier came out flying in the second half and it took them just one minute to get the scoreboard ticking once again.
They launched a sustained period of pressure and Audrin eventually pounced through Patchell and Josh Navidi to score.
Bustos Moyano added the extras to establish a 16-point lead but the Blues fought back.
Jason Tovey came close to snatching a try from a superb chip and chase and soon after Cuthbert burst clear, the Wales wing bumping off Santiago Fernandez and racing away in the 51st minute.
Beattie hit back with a fourth try for Montpellier, though, and Bustos Moyano converted before Patchell and Bustos Moyano exchanged further penalties to round off the scoring.