Montpellier qualifiy for play-offs after 9 try bonanza
With still 3 games to play Montpellier reserved their play-off place after a superb 9 try defeat of relegated Bayonne, now they have just 3 games left to overtake Clermont and get a direct semi-final place for the chance to win that all important Bouclier de Brennus.
Easter Sunday not the best time to have a full stadium with a 12.30 ko. Most of the French Nation are sitting down to a family roast lamb, beans and all the trimmings while all of the children are already feeling sick from far too many choccy Easter eggs, after a garden hunt searching for them.
The conditions for this game were sunny with a strong windy day, the playing surface was in immaculate condition, Bayonne already relegated to the ProD2 had nothing to loose so it was always a potential banana skin game, the crowd not the best of the season, the kick off time, the distance the away supporters had to travel and of course plum bang in the middle of Easter does not help.
Montpellier took control very early in the game with a 4th min. Joe Tomane try, the extras were missed by Willie Du Plessis, then the onslaught started with tries coming from Antoine Battut, Francois Steyn, another from Joe Tomane, Jimmy Nagusa and finally the 3rd and his hat trick for Joe Tomane all converted by Willie Du Plessis, and his was all in the first 40mins. Bayonne did get one back on the stroke of half time by Saubusse the score at half time 40-8.
First half injuries to Yvan Reilhac and Benjamin Fall, and second half injuries to Nadolo and Mikautadze did not help, they were replaced by Jimmy Nagusa, Jeffrey Michel, Fulgence Oeudraogo leaving the team finishing with 14 on the park and Capt. Kelian Galletier playing on the wing and most look likely to miss at least next weeks postponed game with Racing.
The second half started with a Bayonne try scored by Laveau and converted by Saubusse, Montpellier very similar to last weeks game against Grenoble went into anti concentration mode for 15 mins; missed tackles and made some silly mistakes, but leading by nearly 40pts. at half time it is understandable, as the score looked to be heading towards a cricket score by the end of the game.
More tries came from Francois Steyn his second, Akapussi Qera, and finally Willie Du Plessis all converted by the very same Willie Du Plessis and against his former team till the end of the season as he is on loan from Bayonne.
Toma’akino got one back for Bayonne but is was too little too late and the final score,
Montpellier 61 Bayonne 22 a well deserved 5pts victory for Montpellier with Hat trick hero Joe Tomane getting the Man of the Match award well.
Jannie Du Plessis had a try disallowed, his first for the club, his joy on scoring could be seen by all, until the video ref stepped in and claimed the last pass was forward, his disappointment was immense and a only a massive cuddle from Francois Steyn could soften the blow.
Konstantine Mikautadze had to be replaced after a shoulder injury which did not look good and he could well be missing for the rest of the season.
Qualification obtained with this victory, now Montpellier have to come back down to earth and after 2 massive results v Grenoble 54-14 and today’s 61-22, next Sat. ko. 18.45, the much wrote about postponed game against Racing after the fusion, non fusion of the 2 Paris clubs.
The supreme justice of France had to intervene to force this game to be played after the FFR deemed it to be forfeited, the Racing President Jacky Lorenzetti stated that he would not field his Internationals as a sporting gesture as they were not available for team selection ( the game was postponed the same day as France played Wales in the 6 Nations), we will now see if he is true to his word.
This game could be the game of the season as a win would draw Clermont and Montpellier level on 70pts a bonus win would secure a 2nd place with 71pts, and with 2 games left to play v La Rochelle away and the final game of the current season at home to Stade Francais a very interesting scenario, Stade have made an amazing leap forward in the last few weeks since the non fusion and are in place to obtain one of the last play-off places.
All in all the season is far from over, and not even the most qualified of people could name the 6 teams that will qualify for the journey towards that infamous Bouclier de Brennus which Jake White wants so badly to get his hands on.