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EXCELLENT VICTORY PLUS THE BONUS POINT

Le 19 octobre 2020

Montpellier in the very unaccustomed position of 13th in this season’s TOP 14 had the privilege of hosting  Agen who were just one position behind Montpellier in 14th propping up the Championship. This was an important game for Montpellier as they needed to get their machine on the move and start to climb up the Championship table, both teams have yet to record their first win in this new season. Montpellier fielded moreorless the same team as last week against Toulon, of course with new Covid virus instructions in place only 1000 supporters were in the GGL Stadium, but the club had opened one of the car parks for a rugby drive in with a big screen, which in itself was a very ingenious idea by the club and there were 90 plus cars present blowing their horns at every Montpellier score..

From the start of the game Montpellier showed that they were going to be a difficult team to handle with Cobus Reinach and Anthony Bouthier at halfbacks the plays looked very exciting. The first try came after 15 minuts with Montpellier camped on the Agen try line the ball was gathered from the ruck by Mohamed Houas who had Fulgence Ouedraogo on his shoulder which was enough to power the prop over the line for the first 5 points. The extras were added by Anthony Bouthier 7-0 excellent start from the boys. What is very different with these 1000 maximum present in the Stadium is the audible quality of coaches and players, normally drummed out by many thousands in normal circumstances, every word is heard mainly from the coaches which gives a very diffent reflexion on the game and has the coaches choosing their words with care and attention as cameras and mics are always near at hand. The second Montpellier try came from Yacouba Camara after a good move down the wing for the N° 7 to go over in the corner this time the extras were missed by Anthony Bouthier but he did add a penalty minuts later, Raphaël Lagarde an former Montpellerian of years gone by knocked over 2 penalties for Agen the second on the stroke of half time, the players left the park with the score 15-6 for Montpellier.

The second half got under way and it was not long before Montpellier started to unleash the power which we have not seen so far this season, Cobus Reinach got himself a double using his immense speed to outclass the defence, running in under the sticks, the last try was scored by the young Georgian Gela Aprasidze who has replaced Cobus Reinach at scrum half, Anthony Bouthier added the extras on all three tries. Agen did get one try back from Maravat converted by Raphaël Lagarde but the attacking bonus point was always safe and when the final whistle went Montpellier had realised their first win of the season and bonus point to boot, 42-13, which moved them from 13th to 10th which is obviously the only way to go after the near disastrous start to the season. There were several players who showed some great promise with Mohamed Houas, Arthur Vincent, Nicolaas Janse Van Rensburg, Anthony Bouthier all doing well with a pack of forwards who were for the first time this season dominant, this has to continue to target the one of the first 6 places for European rugby next season. On the downside Yacouba Camara got himself another yellow three in all this season and will miss one game because of it, the other problem was the line out, some indifferent throwing and a competitive Agen spoiling meant that Montpellier did lose 4 line outs on their throw, hopefully this will be adjusted this coming week before the next game at home to Brive.

My Man of the Match was Corbus Reinach who performed with all the abilities of an International scrum half and his fleet of foot is something to be seen, his distribution is excellent and he keeps on top of his forwards pushing them always forward, close behind Mohamed Houas who is getting back to his great form that we saw last season, either in the set pieces or in open play he is looking for the ball and never shirks his duties.

Hopefully this victory will see Montpellier in a new light and get the ball rolling for victories that will follow, helping them to climb the Championship to a position which is more their style than the lowly 13th that they had before this game.

Steve Whittell.