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Le 28 mars 2011


Sunday evening and Montpellier were hosts to Stade Français a match that had to be won if qualification was going to happen for the very first time in Montpellier’s history. The weather was not good for the south of France, which left the pitch very wet and ball handling difficult.
A crowd of 11,708 which was an excellent turnout for a Sunday as many would be working the following day were in good voice encouraging their heroes forward.
The match started in favour of Stade who attacked Montpellier’s lines with aggression, and some clever kicking by Beauxis kept our Cysts on the defence, but with the slippery conditions handling was causing both teams problems and there was a fair amount of ping pong rugby going on to compensate.
The first half saw penalties changing hands, and just before the siren for the end of the first half the score was 9-9. Stade got themselves a penalty and put the kick into the corner, the following line out saw Pape catch and Haskell drive over the line for the first try of the game, this took an enormous amount of video ref time before the decision was validated, Dupuy missed the conversion from the corner and both teams went to the break with the Parisians having their noses in front 9-14.
A very poor first half for Montpellier and if they wanted to win this game things would have to change in the second half. Offside by Montpellier and a drop goal by the ever present Beauxis saw the visitors take an early 8 point lead in the second half the score 12-20. 
With only 20mins left to play Montpellier came to their senses and started attacking the Parisian defence with some excellent work by the forwards, after endless infringements the Ref finally decided to show second row forward Pape yellow, the following scrums proved far too powerful for Stade and eventually the Ref went under the sticks for the penalty try, which was converted by Martin Bustos-Moyano, Montpellier back to within a point of Stade Francais 19-20.
Renewed spirit saw Montpellier back on the visitors try line and after a series of pick and goes, first Mamuka Gorgodze was only just denied a try then Giorgi Jgenti took the ball of his International team mate and crashed over with Leleimalefaga hanging on to his rump, Bustos-Moyano added the extras 26-20.
The Stadium erupted, the Blue and White clad supporters could be heard all over the city urging their favourites on to victory, Francois Trinh-Duc passed a massive 50mts penalty to edge further in front, but once again Beauxis was on target to gain the bonus defensive point for the Parisians with the last penalty of the game. 
Final score Montpellier 29 Stade Francais 23.
Courage is probably the best way to describe this encounter, the forwards put in a fantastic display in the second half, but all the team attacked and defended with guts and emotion in the last 10 mins. Once again Montpellier came back from being nearly dead to grab the victory they deserved, but found it too difficult to put the match to bed earlier on.
A special mention to prop forward Jgenti who was massive, showing all his courage and dedication to his team mates, and of course Mamuka Gorgodze again put in an excellent performance. A victory without captain Fulgence Ouedraogo still nursing that dodgy thigh muscle and losing Pierre Berard to injury, but the real bad news is that Benji Thiery will probably have finished his season with a dislocated shoulder.
They say that a team that plays badly and still wins is a team that one day could be a great team, time will tell, but Montpellier is an entirely different team to last season.
Steve Whittell.