Myler holds his nerve as Saints edge past Montpellier
Stephen Myler once again landed a nerveless last-gasp penalty to secure a priceless win for Saints against Montpellier in the Champions Cup opener at Franklin's Gardens.
With the 80 minutes having elapsed, Myler stepped up and sent the ball through the posts to draw a delighted roar from the home fans, who saw their side seal a 16-14 success.
It was yet another ice-cool moment from the player nicknamed ‘The Iceman’ by his team-mates due to his ability to land pressure kicks.
And it provided Saints with reward from an encounter that was nip and tuck throughout.
Jim Mallinder’s men had taken a 10-0 lead thanks to a Calum Clark score and five points from the boot of Myler, but Montpellier fought back in powerful fashion.
A try from François Steyn, who racked up 11 points on the night, helped to push Montpellier towards a fine away win, but Myler ruined their hopes with one exceptional flash of his right boot.
Prior to the game, there was to be a minute’s applause for Dickie Jeeps, the former Saints scrum-half, who had passed away at the age of 84 on the previous weekend.
And there was to be an immediate tribute to Jeeps during the match as Saints produced a superb flowing move, with Harry Mallinder and Louis Picamoles at the heart of it.
Mallinder let go of the ball at the perfect time and Picamoles showed strength and incredible ability as he offloaded to flanker Clark for the score.
Myler was put off by a shout of ‘miss it’, while taking the conversion and after the ball drifted wide of the posts, referee Nigel Owens told him to take it again.
This time, he made no mistake, putting his team 7-0 up inside a productive first five minutes.
Montpellier reacted strongly, throwing their weight around in the maul and thinking they had scored from one drive, but it was ruled out by the TMO.
The French team continued to knock loudly on the door, but Saints held out, bringing a huge cheer from the home fans as they won a penalty to relieve the pressure.
Montpellier thought they had won a penalty of their own soon after, but the decision was reversed for a dangerous tackle on Tom Wood and Myler landed a long-range penalty.
Montpellier were still looking dangerous though and with Saints conceding a string of penalties, the away side continually kicked to the corner.
Benjamin Fall fluffed one seemingly simple chance with numbers out to the left, but after two successive scrum penalties, they decided enough was enough and Ben Botica kicked for goal, getting his team on the board.
Three points in half an hour was a meagre return for all of the possession and territory Montpellier had enjoyed, but they were to score before the break.
Nemani Nadolo offloaded brilliantly and Steyn was the man to finish the move off, but Botica missed the conversion to leave Saints two points up at the interval.
And, as the rain lashed down, the home side were to start the second half on the front foot, winning a penalty that Myler landed with ease.
Saints were really trying to step it up, led by the outstanding Picamoles, but Montpellier were standing tall and they responded by winning a penalty, which Steyn kicked.
The tension was growing at the Gardens as Montpellier continued to push Saints back, but Steyn spurned a chance to put the French side ahead for the first timel, missing a penalty.
But the South African centre wasn’t going to spurn the chance to take a second bite of the cherry, putting Montpellier a point up with 15 minutes remaining.
Saints huffed and puffed but they couldn’t blow the white wall down, with Montpellier keeping their discipline.
But finally the French team’s ability to stay on the right side of the referee deserted them as they presented Saints with a penalty just inside the away side’s half.
Mallinder attempted to land it, but it fell short and Montpellier cleared, but there was to be one more chance for Saints.
Another penalty gave Myler a tough opportunity to the right of the posts, with the Gardens falling silent as their man approached the ball.
And to the delight of everyone of a green, black and gold persuasion, Myler made it, earning his side a memorable victory that they so desperately needed.
Saints: Foden; K Pisi (Wilson 64), G Pisi (Hutchinson 68), Mallinder, North; Myler, Groom (Dickson 57); A Waller, Haywood (Clare 71), Brookes (Hill 65); Dickinson (Ratuniyarawa 63), Paterson; Wood (c), Clark (Harrison 64), Picamoles.
Montpellier: Fall (c) (Michel 30); O’Connor, Dumoulin, Steyn, Nadolo; Botica (Martin 54), White; Nariashvili (Watremaz 60), Mamukashvili (Ruffenach 71), Kubriashvili (Jannie du Plessis 54); Mikautadze (Qera 54), Willemse; Jacques du Plessis, Battut, Spies (Ouedraogo 54).
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)