|Wasps (12) 33|
|Tries: Barbeary 2, Gaskell, Odogwu, Atkinson Cons: Gopperth 3, Atkinson|
|Montpellier (7) 14|
|Tries: Lozowski, Reilhac Cons: Paillaugue 2|
Wasps took a big step towards the Champions Cup quarter-finals as they beat 14-man Montpellier to rack up a second bonus-point win in Pool A.
Number eight Alfie Barbeary scored two tries and set up another in a rampaging performance for the hosts.
Montpellier briefly led 14-12 early in the second half after Yvan Reilhac strolled in for a try.
But Henry Immelman’s seventh-minute red card for a high hit on Will Porter cost the French side as they tired late on.
The Montpellier full-back’s tackle was reckless rather than malicious, but he left referee Andrew Brace with little option as he charged up after a kick, failed to dip into contact with Porter and made contact with the scrum-half’s head.
The visitors’ pack, containing the grizzled Bismarck du Plessis and Louis Picamoles, had plenty of power and bulk, but also lot of miles on the clock.
Their man disadvantage became increasingly significant in the second half as they slipped to their 17th defeat in their last 18 Champions Cup away games.
With Exeter, in the midst of a Covid-19 outbreak, having been forced to cancel this weekend’s game away to Toulouse and the other six English sides in the tournament yet to win a game, Wasps are now arguably the Premiership’s most potent threat in the competition.
Wasps young guns shine in internationals’ absence
Coach Lee Blackett opted to rest England internationals Jack Willis, Joe Launchbury and Dan Robson, and his risk was rewarded as several youngsters took their chance to impress.
Porter, having just turned 22, was first to shine, slicing through the Montpellier defence inside two minutes before standing his ground as he and Picamoles briefly scuffled.
But it was Barbeary, uncapped but called into a recent England squad, who was the star.
The 20-year-old is a heavy-duty runner with deceptively deft hands. He bundled over from close range for the first score and, after team-mate James Gaskell galloped in, Wasps were 12-0 clear and apparently coasting.
Montpellier battled back though as Alex Lozowski, on loan from Saracens, scored against his boyhood club and Reilhac went over.
But Barbeary’s floated off-load for the flying Paolo Odogwu secured a third Wasps try, before the number eight again proved unstoppable from close in.
Nineteen-year-old fly-half Charlie Atkinson, who was unruffled thoughout, dived over to add gloss to the scoreline.
“He says he wants to play centre!”
Wasps director of rugby Lee Blackett: “It was great to see Alfie and the half-backs, Charlie Atkinson and Will Porter, doing so well tonight as they are youngsters playing in key positions.
“Alfie was always able to be the boss in junior rugby, but he is now proving he is a good talent. There has been a huge change in his training mentality in the last four months and he is a very confident young man who believes in himself.
“He says he wants to play centre and I’m not sure whether he’s joking or not.”
Wasps: Sopoaga; Kibirige, Odogwu, Gopperth, Bassett; Atkinson, Porter; Harris, Cruse, Brookes, Cardell, Gaskell, Morris, Young (c), Barbeary.
Replacements: Minozzi for Sopoaga (75), Le Bourgeois for Gopperth (62), Vellacott for Porter (71), West for Harris (48), Oghre for Cruse (69), Toomaga-Allen for Brookes (61), Douglas for Cardall (67). Not Used: T. Willis.
Sin Bin: Barbeary (66).
Montpellier: Immelman; Martin, Lozowski, Vincent (c), Vallee; Foursans, Paillaugue; Forletta, Du Plessis, Lamositele, Van Rensburg, Chalureau, Ouedraogo, Becognee, Picamoles
Replacements: Reilhac for Foursans-Bourdette (20), Nariashvili for Forletta (54), Delhommel for du Plessis (54), Chilachava for Lamositele (54), Camara for Van Rensburg (41), N’gandebe for Ouedraogo (41), Timu for Picamoles (70). Not Used: C. Reinach.
Sent Off: Immelman (7).