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Le 15 avril 2013



French champions Stade Toulouse were the visitors to Montpellier this weekend, and they came with a team charged with household International players only ex-Montpellieran Louis Picamoles was missing from the list, obviously Guy Noves was still looking at that 2nd spot automatic qualifying position. Toulouse have not been at their super best the last few weeks, but when you see a team sheet like theirs, one can only be jealous, and also be aware that at anytime this team can turn on the gas and walk away from an encounter like this with 4 or 5pts in the bag.
Montpellier had a team strong upfront but with a couple of surprises in the backs with Benoit Sicart and Taleta Tupuola both making their TOP 14 debuts this afternoon, the world has to grasped in both hands and this was a fabulous chance for both players to shine in the eyes of coach Fabien Galthie and do themselves an enormous amount of good, but against Toulouse the press were questioning the decision.
The first 20 mins of the game was played at break neck speeds with both teams  throwing the ball all over the park trying to get the initial first score, although the chances came for both teams the only score was a Benoit Paillaugue penalty and the score at half time was 3-0 to Montpellier.
Half time saw a rock band perform, the players were the lucky ones from their changing rooms they were they did not have to suffer audio violence…..
Both teams started the 2nd half in much the same way fast attacking rugby but Toulouse were having problems with the ball in hand and some of their passing in the backs was very erratic, Montpellier were utilising a rush defence and this aided the home side as time and time again Toulouse were caught in mid-field and nowhere to go. 
Beauxis added a penalty to level the scores but he had already missed a few and was having a very off day with the boot.
One of these two teams would have to give and it would need sheer brilliance for it to happen, and if brilliance is wanted, Montpellier have Jimmy Nagusa who was born with it.
 A ball was cleared by Benoit Sicart and Santi Fernandez after a little confusion, Sicart accelerated and eventually gave the ball to Jimmy the Flying Fijian, he jinked left, right and a couple of heavy handoffs there was only the line to cross, this he did, under the posts, the ball was grounded, the Stade Yves de Manoir erupted, the 16th man Montpellier’s supporters after a lesson last week by their adversaries in Clermont responded in excellent fashion and were right behind their team, the noise was tremendous.
Benoit Paillaugue added the extras and there was 7 pts between the two teams 10-7 to Montpellier. 
You cannot bury a team like Toulouse they attacked and tried everything possible to score but the Montpellier defence held firm, tired but very firm, until a quick throw in was taken  the ball went along the line with speed Gael Fickou saw the gap took it and dived over, with the conversion to come Toulouse were 2 pts. behind and two mins. to go, Beauxis stepped up to convert, the ball was narrowly wide and the whole 15,000 supporters gasped with relief.
One minute to hang on and hang on Montpellier did the referee blew for time and everyone rejoiced Montpellier narrow winners 10-8.
A team effort, everyone put in the blood sweat and tears but Benoit Sicart did more than he was asked, Taleta Tupuola did not see much ball but defended with his life, the front 5 just magnificent and in the absence of Francois Trinh-Duc, Santi Fernandez took over the role at 10 with a coolness and calm which we know he can, in fact, a brilliant team effort..
Next week Bayonne away and a victory could just about be enough for a ¼ final play-off place, but which position is still not clear.
Steve Whittell ….

Pitch side interview with winger Taleta Tupuola, Montpellier’s 1st cap winger.

SW. Taleta your first game for Montpellier in front of a full house and against French Champions Toulouse, what are your emotions after this excellent victory
TT. WOW… not sure the last 80 mins have been a blur, it’s so fast, so intense, it seems like I have been on the park for 10 mins, but the experience absolutely brilliant, I need this every week.
SW. How did you get on with the atmosphere in the Stadium?
TT. It’s a bit strange because you are concentrating so much that sometimes you don’t hear it, and then when there is a pause in play in just so loud you can’t help but hear it but when you are defending on your own try line the support is just unbelievable, when they class the supporters as the 16th man I understand why now.
SW. How much help did you get from the more experienced players?
TT. Fantastic all week I have been training with them and the players and coaches never stopped helping me, words of advice from guys who are doing this week in week out. Today everyone was there to make my passage easier and loads on advice and comments to encourage me to play well, its all a bit of a dream at the moment.
SW. Of course you hope this is not just a one off?
TT. Definitely I want more of this but that is up to me to prove that a can play at the top level and with a team who have so much class it will  make me work very hard and if the chance happens of course I will grab it with both hands.
SW. Thanks TT. Go and join the boys for a lap of honour you deserve the applause from your supporters, as afterwards there could be the beer from the boot and a haircut !!!!!!!
Interview by S Whittell.