• Equipe pro

MONTPELLIER EN MARCHE !!!

Le 10 mai 2017

Last game of the current TOP 14 season, and the opponents Stade Francais who created plenty of media noise only weeks ago with the players strike after the announced fusion by the other Parisian team Racing. This was a bizarre situation for Montpellier as they had already secured their home play-off place vs the 6th team, and the only difference possible, was a win by La Rochelle at Clermont, and victory for Montpellier vs Stade would mean a jump directly into 2nd place and a direct semi finale place, however unlikely but always possible.

After the end of the game there was a Lap of Honour for our female team who are once again French Champions of their Elite Championship, followed by a massive end of season firework display which proved to be probably the most exciting part of the evening along with the Icelandic clapping reception for our girls from the Murryfield Stand.

The game itself was a fairly desperate performance for our home team Montpellier, to be fair there are a bucket load of injuries and this was by far a first choice team, but this happens in pro sport and has to be dealt with irrespective of the current problems. The scrum has gone to pieces in the last couple of weeks, what was the pure strength and base of all starting points in Montpellier’s game plan has become very fragile, paper mashie. The line outs have become a problem, after loosing Antoine Battut last week vs La Rochelle, and they will be enormous amount of work to be done before the play-offs in two weeks time which will more than likely be vs Racing 92. Stade took an early lead by Camara, a try which looked very dubious; the ref went to the video and it was fairly clear that the ball was not grounded, but M. Gauzere, gave the try, maybe a shame he was not reffing last week vs La Rochelle as the result could have been changed to a win after the disallowed last minute try by Nadolo, the conversion followed by Steyn 7-0 to Stade. Willie Du Plessis got a couple of penalties back for Montpellier, but that was quickly countered by one from Steyn 6-10, Stade were given a penalty a good 10 mts. inside their own half, but someone opened their mouth and gave dissent, the ref marched another 10 mts; now the penalty was in range for Steyn and he transformed, stupid indiscipline from Montpellier playing well under their standards this was far from necessary and needs to stop. Montpellier was under plenty of pressure and Stade looked for the first 20 mins. the better team on the park, their scrum was moving forward and they were winning their lineout’s plus some of Montpellier’s, the Montpellier attack was disjointed and flimsy it was obvious with so many of the backs playing out of place or not 1st choice this was going to be a difficult evening for the home team. Scrum for Montpellier 5mts. from the Stade try line and Benoit Paillaugue went for the blind side, he timed his pass to perfection and a certain Nadolo was waiting to create carnage, his usual performance 5mts out, crash, bang, get out of my way sonny, and then the dive and one handed grounding of the ball, from the touchline a superb conversion by Willie of the du Plessis’s, all 4 of them present in the line up today. The ref blew for the break and the teams were level 13 apiece.

Second half started with another Stade penalty and the visitors had their noses in front once again 13-16, still Montpellier were functioning with hardship and being beaten in many departments of the game. The 57th minute a cross kick by Willie DP. for his winger Duhan Van der Mere ( known as Ken by some of the female office staff) he gathered well and crashed over without going over the touch line excellent effort, second try in 2 weeks for the South African youngster, another brilliant conversion from Willie 20-16 and for the first time in the match Montpellier were ahead. 10 mins. later a maul on the 22. and somehow the Stade defence spit leaving a boulevard for Pierre Spies to use his incredible speed to go first left then right to round the last defender and under the sticks he went, and of course Willie DP. Converted, 27-16. Just 10 minutes left one more try for the bonus point, but Stade reversed the situation with a try by ex Montpellier Craig Burden, the conversion was missed 27-21. Stade came straight back at Montpellier from the restart, this was going to be a scary last couple of minutes for the home side, the ball was thrown out to the wing and Waisea who has been creating problems all game crashed over despite a good effort to stop him from Nic White, 27-26 with the conversion to come, Steyn lined up his kick the noise had passed the Mach 1 mark, and fortunately for Montpellier he missed, the ref blew game over and Montpellier sneaked the win, 27-26.

Benoit Paillaugue Man of the Match, but Montpellier have 2 weeks to work on their scrums and line outs which were by no means up to standard, yes there are injuries but the guys coming in have to make more effort and dig deeper if we are to progress. Three more games left to play, starting with a home barrage vs Racing 92, a semi vs Clermont and then a final in Paris, if Montpellier want that Bouclier de Brennus the effort has to be double of what it was today, yes the game was won but the next 3 will not be unless the resolve, spirit, and pure work load has to be so much more. The opportunity is now there, the question is how much do you want it, as now it’s very simple the choice is BOUCLIER or HOLIDAYS !!!

Steve Whittell.