It should have been so much more..
This weekend, Montpellier has the difficult task of going to La Rochelle, a place where they have come close but always failed at the last hurdle and are still waiting to register their first win. With all our 5 French Internationals being kept under warm blankets by Coach Galthie in Nice, Montpellier’s coach Xavier Garbajosa would have to do without them but all credit to the 5 selected, just shows what skill and hard work can achieve. The selection made by Xavier Garbajosa was still a team with many Internationals and a back line studded with South Africans of pure class. Montpellier need points to stay in the top 6, and although the task would be difficult surely not impossible.
The game started and Montpellier had an excellent first 20mins. Handre Pollard hit a penalty to give the boys a 0-3 lead which was quickly followed by a Francois Steyn penalty from inside his own half. He kept the kick low and easily passed it between the sticks for the team to go to a 0-6 lead. Plisson got a penalty back for La Rochelle to move the score onto 3-6 but Montpellier were playing well and looked if this could be their day. On the 20mins. mark Montpellier attacked and great work from Pollard and Serfontein who could have scored but he gave the perfect ball to Yvan Reilhac who had a 5mts run in unopposed. Pollard missed the extras and Montpellier had stretched their lead to 3-11. Everyone knew that La Rochelle would not just lie down and die, but for reasons unknown, Montpellier just turned themselves off. Lack of concentration or something else, their defence was nonexistent and of course La Rochelle profited from this slumber land effect and ran in 3 very quick tries, from Bourgarit and Retiere who had a double moving the score onto 22-11 for the home side with Plisson adding the extras. The last of the three tries was after Nico Van Rensburg received a yellow and 10mins in the bin for a tackle on a player without the ball. This was not helping Montpellier’s cause. The ref blew for the break and La Rochelle had forged ahead 22-11.
The second half started and quickly Montpellier were back to 15 men on the park with the return from the bin of Vans Rensburg, but it did not help with another score from the Maritime Men. Again it was that man Retiere who got his hat-trick after some sloppy defence from Montpellier. The ball went threw several hands and far too many tackles were broken for finally Retiere to receive the ball on his wing and go over into the hallowed ground, Plisson added the extras and La Rochelle were well ahead the score 29-11. They also had the attacking bonus point in their pockets which could possibly make this a 5point win. Once again it was discipline that was hurting Montpellier’s performance, infringements leading to tries were not helping their position. Plisson added another penalty, after just far too many faults from Montpellier and also increasing their lead to 32-11. The last 20 mins showed a complete change of situations it was La Rochelle who went "AWOL" and Montpellier scored 3 quick tries. The first from Goosen after some good work by the forwards, then a Van Rensburg interception and he had to scamper moreorless the 50mts which he did well, and finally Nadolo went over from close range with just 4mins left on the clock, Pollard converted 2 of the three tries to bring the score to 35-30, La Rochelle had lost their attacking bonus point and Montpellier had collected the defensive bonus point, with just a couple of minutes left on the clock. Doumayrou got himself into the ref’s bad books with a cathedral tackle on Francois Steyn, after a couple of minutes of video it was obvious he was going off, the ref decided red card and he was not mistaken.
From the kick off La Rochelle played the one pass game until the siren and then the ball was booted into touch for their victory, final score; La Rochelle 35 Montpellier 30. Concentration in defence and some sorry indiscipline were Montpellier’s downfall, but they showed plenty of spirit by coming back and nearly getting the better of La Rochelle in the final quarter of the game. It was that 20mins at the end of the first half which ruined their chances of a first ever win against the Maritime Men. The 6 Nations gets under way next weekend with the Crunch of all Crunches, France v England will Galthie keep all 6 of Montpellier’s players for this first game we will have to wait for the selection next week. The club can be very proud of their representation for the National squad, Bouthier, Haouas, Ngandebe, Reilhac and Vincent, could all be getting their first full International caps at senior level, and Willemse could be adding to his own tally of caps.
The next game is on the 15/02/2020, at home, the opposition Bayonne ko.18.00 the day after Valentines Day so do not forget the flowers guys for your loved ones.