A last minute try for Montpellier spelled defeat for Bath Rugby in Pool 5 of the Heineken Cup, as the French side grasped a 24-22 victory.
With under two minutes on the clock Montpellier had taken the lead after a neat break through from the home side saw them evade the Bath defence, and winger Pierre Berard go over for the try. Scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue converted, giving an early 7-0 lead.
However, Bath worked their way back into control and were soon holding the majority of possession in the opening quarter. It wasn't long before the pressure told as, on the 8 minute mark, Montpellier were penalised for not rolling away, and Olly Barkley slotted the kick cleanly through the posts. 7-3.
Bath managed to maintain their dominance but were unable for the majority of the first half to break through the Montpellier defence. However, after a series of penalties and a warning from the referee, Montpellier winger Timoci Nagusa saw yellow in the 38th minute, and the sin-binning sparked the game into life in the dying minutes of the first half.
Off the lineout, a powerful driving maul was set on its way by Bath, and as they inched over the line, Man of the Match Ryan Caldwell dived down with the ball to score Bath's first try of the game. Barkley converted with the final kick of the half, giving the visitors a 7-10 lead going in at half time.
As the second half got underway, the visitors looked to continue their early dominance. However, a kickable penalty got Montpellier back on level terms, with Paillaugue again successful. 10-10
Moments later both teams were down to 14 men, after David Wilson was also sent to the sin bin, after being judged to have obstructed Montpellier from gathering a loose ball at the lineout.
It didn't stop Bath from taking the lead once more though, after a period of sustained pressure in the Montpellier 22 and multiple phases saw Caldwell crash over for his second try of the game. Tom Heathcote converted the try, extending the lead to seven points.
A more even contest developed in the second half, and although Bath maintained the upper hand, Montpellier looked dangerous in attack. With just over 10 minutes left of the game, they proved just how dangerous as they levelled the scores once more. Montpellier worked themselves into the Bath 22, and replacement Alex Tulou picked the ball up from the back of the ruck and broke away to score near the posts. Paillaugue converted once more. 17-17.
The visitors hit back almost immediately with another try of their own, this time for centre Matt Banahan. Michael Claassens snipped through to put Heathcote straight through the centre. Some quick recycling across the pitch saw Francois Louw give Banahan the final pass to send him powering over the line. Barkley was unable to find the posts with his conversion, taking the score to 17-22.
As the game went into its final minutes Bath were defending hard against the Montpellier attack. The French side thought they had crossed for another try, but play was brought back after the touch judge spotted a foot in touch before they went over. A huge scrum followed, with the Bath pack putting in an almighty effort to win a penalty. Barkley cleared the lines, and whilst the resulting lineout was good, the referee called for a reset. A messy second attempt saw the ball go loose, which was eventually gathered by Montpellier. With time dead on the clock, they quickly spun the ball wide. A clever chip found Nagusa on the touch line, who, despite looking to have been offside when the chip went in, sprinted in to score. The resulting conversion from replacement Martin Bustos Moyano sealed the late win for the home side, leaving Bath with just a losing bonus point.