Paul Willemse takes aim at the London Irish defence
Paris (AFP) - Montpellier’s South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach knocked London Irish out of the Champions and Challenge Cups with a try that secured a 21-21 draw on Sunday.
Reinach, 32, sniped over with four minutes left as the French Top 14 champions, who started the game already sure of a last-16 place, finished seventh in Pool B of the Champions Cup.
Irish could not reach the knockout rounds of the top-tier competition, but a bonus point would have given them a place in the last 16 of the second-tier Challenge Cup.
Uncapped winger Ollie Hassell-Collins started at No. 11 for the visitors after his inclusion in England’s set-up this week for the upcoming Six Nations.
Lock Paul Willemse captained the hosts days after being named in the France squad that starts the defence of their title on February 5.
The Exiles led 14-0 at the break after Australia lock Adam Coleman and Argentina flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez crossed.
Hooker Augustin Creevy then emulated fellow Argentinian Gonzalez by scoring with half an hour left.
Centre Thomas Darmon crashed over for the French side. Replacement prop Vincent Guidicelli and Reinach added tries to make it 21-21 with five minutes left.
Montpellier were camped on the Irish line with the clock in the red before winger Gabriel Ngandebe lost possession of the ball in contact and the teams ended all-square leaving the away side out of both tournaments.
Later, record five-time champions Toulouse welcome two-time winners Munster in a re-run of the 2008 final as the French side search for a home last 16 tie.
Then in the Scottish capital, Saracens, who won the last of their three titles in 2019, can also secure a home game in the next round by beating Edinburgh.
By the end of Saturday’s action the teams in the last 16 were all known, including Leinster who hammered Racing 92 36-10 at Lansdowne Road, the venue of May 20’s final to claim top seeding in Pool A.
Holders La Rochelle finished in the No. 1 spot in Pool B after easing past Northampton 31-13.
The Sharks will also have a home tie in the next round after claiming a try bonus point in the 39-29 loss at Harlequins, as South African sides make their debut in the competition, with the Stormers and the Bulls also advancing.
On Friday, the Ospreys stunned English champions Leicester 27-26 with a 92nd minute try to reach the knockouts of the competition for the first time since 2010.