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THE POINT IS WELL TAKEN

Lundi 30 Septembre 2013
Friday evening  was once again the turn of Montpellier to be Canal +’s favourites, this time the opposition was Stade Francais in the spanking new arena of Jean Bouin Paris, a stadium which Stade took possession of this season and are still undefeated in this magnificent arena. Montpellier after their incredible wins at home against Clermont and Toulouse wanted to show some consistency on the road after the very disappointing performance against USAP, a couple of weeks ago. Where could there a better place to perform, everything was in place for a grand evening of rugby. All 3 of Montpellier’s coaches had connections with Stade Francais in the past, especially  General Galthie who was a player and coach in the great years of this Parisian team, always another reason to show off his protégés to the Capitals masses. Perfect conditions for the game with a reasonably good crowd of  15,991 why a stadium so good is never chocker block full is beyond belief, but that maybe has something to do with it being in Paris!!!
 
The game was a torrid affair with Stade showing that they can play rugby but also defend well especially around the rucks and mauls where Jonathan Pelissie was given no extra yards to strut his stuff; the Parisians had more than a watchful eye on the new star of French Rugby. With the  Montpellier forwards being dominated most of the evening by their counterparts Francois Trinh-Duc was always on the back foot and finding life very difficult trying to get his troops moving forward, but they defended well and some last ditch tackling saved their bacon more than once. Pelissie opened the scoring with a penalty but Dupuy quickly levelled the score at 3 a piece. The Parisan forwards show their force and aggression when the ball came to Slimani  after a series of rucks and mauls, he crashed over, and with the extras from Dupuy, Stade had a lead of 10-3. The teams went to the break with this same score. The second half showed more domination from the Stade forwards, and they gave Montpellier a particularly hard time in the set pieces whether it was their ball or the oppositions. Dupuy and Pelissie added a penalty apiece to move the score onto 13-6 in the favour of the home team.  The young Bonneval was making a nuisance of himself on the wing most of the evening giving Montpellier’s defence lots to worry about., it was the very same person who after a brilliant break left Montpellier hanging on to fresh air, he slipped the ball to Plisson in the tackle who only had to canter the last 10 mts to carry the ball into the hallowed ground, the extras were missed, but the bonus point was out of the window 18-6 to Stade.
All most immediately the Cysts hit back Tuitavake challenged Plisson to a high ball, won the challenge gave the ball to Alex Tulou who made good yards before he was pulled up short, but still managed to slip the ball to Francois Trinh-Duc who crashed over in the corner, FTD took the conversion himself but was just wide. Montpellier was back in bonus point country. 18-11. There were no more scores, and few scares, but Montpellier did hold solid to retain a very important bonus point probably not the best game ever played by Montpellier but they were denied space with a Stade defence very similar to that of Montpellier’s and it’s always going to be difficult to find extra space in these sort of situations. Montpellier have been using moreorless the same side for the last couple of weeks as the injury list is getting dangerously high, plus they are still missing 4 plays from the Southern Hemisphere, so taking all this in consideration the result was not too shabby. 
Stade Francais deserved their win the forwards were dominant in all quarters, and their backs dangerous at times, but this season, home wins seem to be the norm, it’s stealing those bonus points away from home which is becoming mega important, they could make all the difference at the end of the season, so a little something is always better than big nothing. Jonathan Pelissie will have to practise his goal kicking as he missed a couple well within in his range, Jimmy Nagusa needs to look up the word defence, not an easy task for a Fijian but then again it’s a word that is never seen or heard in the Fijian language, they only know how to attack but given the chance they are excellent and renowned for it.
 
Next Saturday the Pro D2 Champions Oyonnax is coming to town, the venue, Stade Yves du Manoir ko. at 18.30, a game Montpellier has to win, and win well, 4 pts. will be good, but the preference would be the bonus 5pts, but win the match first then contemplate that extra point.
 
Steve Whittell.