Updated: Saturday, 01 March 2014 06:18 | By Agence France-Presse

Montpellier down Stade after pointless first half

Montpellier downed Stade Francais 19-10 in the French Top 14 on Friday in a match that had toiled to a 0-0 stalemate at half-time.

Montpellier down Stade after pointless first half

Montpellier's Alex Tulou (L) fights for the ball with Stade Francais' Antoine Burban (R) during a French Top 14 rugby union match on February 28, 2014, at the Yves du Manoir stadium in Montpellier, southern France - by Sylvain Thomas

The win moved Montpellier into second place in the table, three points behind leaders Clermont while Stade slipped a point off the pace in third.

Victory was also a welcome boost for a Montpellier side, coached by former Stade boss Fabien Galthie, who had been mauled 42-16 by Clermont last time out.

After the turgid opening half, Montpellier suddenly threw off the shackles by racing into a 12-0 lead thanks to two quick-fire tries in the second period.

Kiwi winger Rene Ranger grabbed the opening try after being released by Francois Trinh-Duc who had easily evaded a poor challenge from Jonathan Danty.

Benoit Paillaugue converted before the scrum-half added the second try in the 55th minute after setting up the opportunity himself.

After a smart feint, he passed to Alex Tulou with the backrow forward then putting Ranger away.

Paillaugue continued his supporting run and was on hand to collect Ranger's pass for the score in the corner.

This time, the scrum-half missed the conversion before Morne Steyn finally got Stade on the scoreboard with a 45-metre penalty just before the hour mark.

Stade centre Danty cut the deficit further with his side's only try of the night which Steyn converted for 10-12.

But Montpellier sealed the win in the dying moments when Jonathan Pelissie slipped the ball to Fijian star Timoci Nagusa to score with Trinh-Duc adding the extras.

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