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Le 14 février 2011


A weekend of 6 Nations and TOP 14 rugby, a treat for all the rugby world, Montpellier were hosts to French TOP 14 Champions Clermont, with players missing from both teams the task in hand for Montpellier was never going to be easy, a last minute injury to Mamuka Gorgodze, left him side lined, but Marc Giraud was given the chance at No.8 to prove his worth, also new recruit Alex Tulou was on the bench for maybe his first appearance for his new club.
A record crowd of 14,717, a Stadium bathed in sunshine, a farewell message from Jerome Vallee supported by his children, thanking everyone for his fantastic career at Montpellier over the years, all was perfect for one of Montpellier’s most important games of the season.
The match started fast and furious and it looked like the expectations were going to be produced by both teams. Brock James was the first to draw blood with a neat drop goal after Clermont had installed themselves in the Montpellierian 22, but Martin Bustos-Moyano quickly levelled with a penalty after a ruck infringement.
The wait for the first Montpellier try was not long, from a scrum Julien Tomas threw the ball out to Santiago Fernandez, who saw James creeping up in defence, he took the inside passage left everyone for dead and raced towards Timmy Nagusa, the pass of perfection left the Fijian Flyer unopposed with the line begging, over he went with a splendid dive, Bustos-Moyano added the extras 10-3 to the Blue and Whites. 
Montpellier started the machine moving forward at every occasion and was denied a certain try from some very dodgy refereeing, Nagusa collected a Fernandez chip ahead, only to be told he was offside, the referee obviously did not realise just how fast Jimmy really is, the screen proved the accused not guilty, but the ref saw otherwise.
Minutes later Montpellier were off again this time forwards pounding the Clermont line, Julien Tomas slipped the ball to Ali Fakate and all 135kgs of him exploded over the line, the shudder as the ball went into the hallowed ground frightened most supporters in the Twickenham stand, the conversion was missed and on that note the players departed for lemons, 15-3 to Montpellier at the pause.
Clermont were not going to lie down and die, they attacked with venom at the start of the second period but to no avail the defence was volcanic, each attack was thrust backwards with power and precision every home player working for each other and nobody shirking their duties, all James could do was add a couple of penalties, 15-9 but that did bring the visitors into bonus point territory. Montpellier finally tackled their way out of trouble and firmly placed the lid on the Clermont Volcano, the lava ceased to flow!!
The boys were now in attacking bonus point mood, the leather went through several pairs of hands after a penalty found touch, Juan Figallo wrapped himself around the ball and over the line he went, Bustos-Moyano added the extras 22-9, the final nail into the Clermont coffin was a perfect cross kick to the wing and low and behold Captain Fantastic was all on his lonesome, the arms went up the ball was gathered and the try was scored, the Stadium erupted, this was Montpellier’s Volcano exploding, there was even a little touch line embrace between Eric Bechu and Didier Bes, with a couple of dance steps thrown in for good measure (stick to rugby guys not strictly standards). Bustos-Moyano again knocked the ball over the sticks, final score Montpellier 29 Clermont 9, and 5 very well deserved points in the pocket.
Every one of the players to be congratulated not only playing attractive attacking rugby but a stone wall defence that even a great team like Clermont could not breach.
Steve Whittell.