The irish fighting spirit prevails yet again
Ireland has never been a happy hunting ground for Montpellier, three times at Leinster, and once at Ulster and Connacht, every time a defeat and sore heads and a very long trip back home. This weekend Montpellier were at Connacht, the very well known Sports ground Stadium; known for its vicious winds and beating rain one of the loneliest rugby grounds in Europe, if you at not Irish, and normally the temperature does not get much over very cold during the winter months.
This Sunday afternoon the Gods had shone on Montpellier, sun, little wind, but a very Irish reception to welcome the boys from the Med.
Montpellier had brought a strong team to try and overcome this Province of Ireland, Connacht are a team of solid players with very few stars but be careful that does not mean they roll over and die, completely the opposite, just knowing that the French were the visitors and they were studded with Internationals only ups the anti as far as they are concerned.
The game did start very well for the boys with an Aaron Cruden try in the first couple of minutes with Capt. Benoit Paillaugue adding the extras 0-7.
Montpellier were playing some decent rugby and had a few chances to increase the score but the Irish as always defended like lions and kept them out. Jack Carty got a penalty to get the score board moving forward 3-7, unfortunately for Montpellier errors started creeping into their game and they had great difficulty in keeping the ball in hand with numerous knock ons. The discipline was improved in the first 30mins so they were not giving away countless penalties, they did have a try disallowed after some fine work from the backs, but were finally brought back for a final forward pass, they were given a penalty and La Paille added the three points, 3-10 so far so good. Just before half time the Irish forwards start to impress and they got themselves moving forward to trundle over the line for their first try the extras were missed 8-10, from the kick off Connacht attacked and got themselves a line out, for reasons unknown Paul Willemse tackled the man in the air as he descended with the ball, whether it was intentional or not, the ref showed him a yellow card and he was off to the bin for 10 mins.
Montpellier were down to 14 players and it was almost half time, Connacht threw everything at them before the break and finally the Montpellier defence cracked again with the forwards again going over in mass, the extras were again missed the half time score 13-10 for Connacht.
The second half got underway and Montpellier did well with only 14 on the park for the first 10mins, Benoit Paillaugue got a penalty back for the boys to level the scores at 13-13. The Irish got themselves another penalty which they sent into touch and from the lineout they scored through Blade the extras added by Carty and there was now 7pts difference 20-13.
In the 63min Anthony Bouthier scored a great individual try for Montpellier which La Paille converted and the scores were level 20-20.
With just 10mins left on the clock Montpellier tried their level best to win this game but a final penalty from Carty left them just 3pts behind, although they attacked it was against a solid wall of defence and finally Connacht got the ball, game over they played the part of Munster and others, ruck, one pass go to ground, repeat until the siren sounded and the ball was punted out.
Difficult for the men from Montpellier but their downfall was the 10 knock ons and around a dozen penalties against them, they lost several balls in the rucks and mauls which did their cause no good, even playing against a mediocre team the win would be difficult but playing in Galway against a team of “Irish Fighting Spirit” it was not going to happen.
With Toulouse winning away from home at Gloucester this already make Montpellier’s task even harder and next Sunday Gloucester are the visitors so the win has to happen or Montpellier could be looking at another disastrous European Champions Cup campaign.