DEAN RICHARDS claims Newcastle Falcons are still the underdogs in their Heineken Champions Cup pool despite this afternoon’s dramatic 23-20 victory over Montpellier making it two wins from two in this season’s competition.

Falcons followed up their opening-weekend win in Toulon with an even more remarkable success as they went through a staggering 39 phases with the clock in the red before lock Callum Chick was driven over for the decisive score.

With England head coach Eddie Jones in the Kingston Park stands, Falcons raced into a 16-6 half-time lead despite Montpellier boasting a dozen internationals, led by France number eight Louis Picamoles.

The French Top 14 side came roaring back in the second half, and after Ruan Pienaar kicked two crucial penalties, lock Paul Willemse rumbled over for a try to give Montpellier a 20-16 lead.

That looked like being that with the clock showing full time, but Falcons mounted a final attack that featured some remarkable handling to keep the ball alive.

With a raucous home crowd roaring them on, the hosts got to within a couple of yards of the Montpellier line, and after 39 phases, a final push saw Chick crash over.

Joel Hodgson converted to secure a three-point win which lifts Falcons to top of Pool Five after the opening two rounds of matches.

Nevertheless, Richards is refusing to get too carried away, with Falcons’ next European action pitching them into a double-header against Edinburgh at the start of December.

Richards said: “Things haven't changed. We are still the minnows and we still have absolutely nothing to lose. We weren't given a hope in hell of winning one, never mind two games in the pool.

“We play Edinburgh in December and they are a fantastic team - they are on fire. They have something like 15 current full internationals. We're not in that position, so we still have nothing to lose.”

Newcastle were involved in a tight affair in Toulon, but their game in the Stade Mayol was nothing compared to yesterday’s drama.

There were times during the eight minutes of overtime when it looked as though the Montpellier line would not be breached, but Richards’ players retained their composure as they ground their way towards the opposition line.

The director of rugby said: “I've been involved in a few finishes like that, but that was one of the best because of the players involved here.

"Montpellier are a star-studded side and they can take off an international or two and drop another in there while we are just a bunch of guys who want to play for each other and make it work.

"Before that 39 phases, we couldn't keep it for more than one or two! But I think we probably just about deserved the win and it's hats off to the referee for being consistent with his decisions, especially during those 39 phases."

An early break from Jonny Williams led to a second-minute penalty from Hodgson for offside, and Falcons were 10-0 to the good when Williams' one-handed overhead pass sent Gary Graham over in the corner for a fourth-minute try which Hodgson converted.

Pienaar slotted two first-half penalties to get Montpellier on the scoreboard, but Hodgson hammered over another three-pointer of his own to make it 13-6 in the 25th minute. When Kyle Cooper won two successive penalties at the breakdown, Hodgson squeezed another kick over the bar for 16-6 at the interval.

Pienaar reduced Montpellier’s arrears with a penalty at the start of the second half, and seven minutes later, a further offside infringement from Newcastle allowed him to make it 16-12.

Montpellier edged in front when they drove from the line-out to enable Paul Willemse to crash over in the 67th minute, and another Pienaar penalty looked to have sealed Newcastle’s fate.

When Logovi'i Mulipola was sin-binned for a high tackle there looked to be no way back for Falcons, but Richards’ side staged a remarkable grandstand finish to claim one of their greatest European scalps.