Bordeaux outclass the leader Montpellier

Le 25 septembre 2017

Montpellier in recent years have had excellent results in Bordeaux, and as leaders of this seasons TOP 14 they were certainly looking for a fifth success in a row, however Bordeaux may have something to say about that. The conditions nearly perfect for fast running rugby, a fine sunny day with little wind awaited the players for the start of this fifth day encounter, an excellent crowd of nearly 22 000 were present to see a fast athletic game which these 2 teams are renowned for. Vern Cotter had again rotated his selection bringing in Enzo Sanga, Julien Delannoy for their first starts this season, and Wiaan Liebenberg playing in an unfamiliar role at number 8.

The game started with Bordeaux playing the fast powerhouse rugby, only three minutes gone and they were already over the Montpellier try line with Goujon going over in force. Hickey added the extras 7-0 to the hosts, not the best of starts for Montpellier. One minute later, Montpellier were back in the game, smart play from Alex Dumoulin, then Jimmy Nagusa got himself over the try line with Aaron Cruden  adding the extras 7-7. Although the scores were equal, the play was all Bordeaux and their fan did not have to wait long for more points, first Edwards then Barraque crossed for the hosts both tries converted by an on form Hickey 21-7. Bordeaux were playing aggressive running rugby and Montpellier could only defend, they were stretched to every limit while Bordeaux certainly gave the home crown something to shout about. Aaron Cruden knocked over a penalty but pickings were very lean for the visitors, Hickey again obliged with a penalty before Bordeaux got themselves another try on the stoke of half time, this time a 5 minutes scrum and Houston sent over Naqalevu for another score and a large gap of 31-10 as the referee blew for the citrus break.

The second half did not get any better for Montpellier, Hickey added another penalty, 34-10. Montpellier did get the first try of the second half from Jimmy Nagusa playing as though he was a wing forward, going over in force with the rest of the pack, Cruden added the extras 34-17 but this was little consolation for Montpellier who were continually playing on the back front, and doing little else but defending. A further 2 penalties were added by Hickey moving the score into 40-17, and thing went from bad to worse as Mikautadze got himself a red card for using the forearm instead of the hand to thrust away a defending player, depleting Montpellier to 14 players for the remaining 15 minutes. Bordeaux regained their attacking bonus point with a last try from Hickey who then converted making his tally an impressive 27 pts for his team,  the referee finally blew for the end of this game,

Final score Bordeaux 47 Montpellier 17

A convincing win by Bordeaux which gives Montpellier lots to think about, they went to Bordeaux undefeated and took a hammering from a team who played Montpellier style rugby fast and furious, a massive come back to earth lesson for the visitors who made far to many mistakes, a scrum in tatters from the off, a line out where far too much ball was lost, and some dire handling, yes players were rested but taking away so many important elements from a team will alter the style and efficiency of the contribution from the players selected. This is not a problem just for Montpellier, all teams suffer this when rotation becomes an important and necessary element for a coach who ever he is, but it does show who the major players of a team are.

A lesson can de learned from this defeat and must be learned if Montpellier is going to continue their success of the first 4 days, so hard work will again be Vern Cotter orders for this week before the next Sunday visit of Brive who are renowned for their forward play, rough, aggressive, and always ready, they have not had a great start to the season loosing 5 out of 5 but will always be hungry and looking for the upset. Montpellier have now to wait for the next disciplinary meeting to see what Konstantine Mikautadze’s red card will get in the way of how many games he will be sitting on the side lines. The recent press releases of the LNR, concerning the FFR President Bernard Laporte and our President Mohed Altrad are probably not going to help the situation, but that’s another story for another day.

Steve Whittell.