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16th Apr 2022

“That’s what pressure does” – Matt Williams on crucial Marcus Smith miss

Patrick McCarry

Marcus Smith

“I feel sorry for the young man.”

Marcus Smith and Harlequins will be asking themselves how they let this one get away.

We are set for at least one French side in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup as Montpellier edged out Quins at the Twickenham Stoop to set up an all but likely quarter final away to Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle.

The Top 14 leaders defeated Harlequins 40-26 in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash, last weekend. Quins had a mountain to climb, but had the Montpellier advantage cut to just three points at half-time of the second leg.

Handre Pollard did add a penalty to the Montpellier total that put them six points clear, only for the English side to set up camp in their opponent’s 22 for the guts of 15 minutes. During that period, their were six penalties awarded against the French side, but only one yellow card and no penalty try.

Quins, perhaps hanging on their scrum dominance, kept going fore the killer try. They were denied a Marcus Smith try, for crossing, but Louis Lynagh got over for his second try. It meant it a one-point game and, with less than four minutes left, gave Smith a chance to win the game with a conversion.

However, it was not to be as the England outhalf pulled his kick left and wide.

Matt Williams on Marcus Smith miss

Harlequins won 33-20, on the day, but Montpellier were a point better off, on aggregate, over the two legs. As the full-time whistle blew, Marcus Smith dropped his head, knowing how costly that missed kick had been.

Over on Virgin Media, pundits Matt Williams and Shane Horgan weighed in on the biggest moments in a thrilling contest. For Williams, that missed Smith kick was a killer. He commented:

“The pressure got to him… he seemed to collapse a little bit… he was very bent

“That’s pressure. That’s what pressure does… I feel sorry for the young man as he had a good game, but that was the winning of the game… he’s going to have to carry that.”

“That should go over,” Shane Horgan agreed. “That [missed conversion] was definitively the difference between Quins losing and going through.”

Montpellier have joined Leinster in reaching the quarter finals. Leo Cullen’s men pummelled Connacht at the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening.