Le 26 décembre 2018

Three games in the next 14 days Grenoble away who is lying 13th in the Championship, then Pau and Lyon at home a possible 15 points which would shoot Montpellier up the Championship table and more than likely among the Top 6, a position where they should be. The game at Grenoble is never easy, but on numerous occasions Montpellier have often come out winners and after a fine performance in the Champions Cup last week against Toulon, everyone expected the boys could be on a roll and start to secure a top 6 place. The day was fine but very cold in Grenoble and last minute shopping resulted in a smallish crowd to watch this game, both teams desperate for points for different reasons.

The game started and it was Grenoble who were the more present showing some good attacking skills especially from Ugalde who arrived this week from Brive as an extra player. It was not long before Germain had the chance to put the home team ahead with his first penalty, Montpellier had been warned discipline or find the boot of Germain who rarely misses, neither does Benoit Paillaugue who had replaced Ruan Pienaar after only 6 minuts on the clock, Ruan took a very nasty blow to the head in a ruck, all unseen by the officials. Again Germain knocked over another penalty only for Benoit to do exactly the same and the score moved on 6-6. The first try of the game came from Montpellier after a penalty where touch was found 5 meters out, Montpellier used a touch play and with the following maul moving forwards it was Jaques Du Plessis who touched down, and again Paillaugue added the extras and Montpellier had a lead of 6-13. Grenoble were the stronger of the 2 packs and Montpellier struggled to make any ground, the Grenoble defence was solid, some messy handling and individuals going forward unsupported did not help Montpellier’s cause in anyway what so ever. Just before halftime a clever cross kick from Ugalde saw Rhule the winger get the better of Jimmy Nagusa in the air with a well timed jump all he had to do was touchdown and the try was awarded, a rare miss by Germain left the score at 11-13 when the referee decided it was time for the break.

The second half got under way and Grenoble kept the pressure on the visitors Montpellier  who were making plenty of unforced errors it was not looking good for the boys. Germain added another penalty to regain the lead, 14-13 but that was quickly reversed by Paillaugue who slotted one of his own, 14-16 and Montpellier had a tiny lead. In the 66th minute again that man Germain added another penalty to sneak a 17-16 lead, and although Montpellier tried their hardest to score it did not happen, most of their attacks fizzled out to not much, either because of simple mistakes or some very aggressive defending from Grenoble. This would have been a perfect start to the Christmas period if they could have held onto their tiny lead but it did not happen. They were warned by the coaching staff that Germain is a thorn in many TOP 14 teams as his goal kicking is second to none.

Next up two games at home first Pau next Saturday and then the following week Lyon at home again,  Montpellier need a minimum of 8pts if not more as if there is no reaction this could soon become a race called catch  up.

Steve Whittell.