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Le 29 octobre 2012


Saturday evening the temperature had dropped considerably and most of Montpellier was freezing its walnuts nuts, except of course the players who were taking on newly promoted Grenoble, who are having a terrific season so far, lying just one point behind Montpellier in 5th place, a very healthy crowd of 12, 410 turned out to support their Cistes. Montpellier had lined up a very strong team especially up front and on paper it looked as though they were going to give the visitors a power struggle in the trenches. Grenoble on the other hand had come looking for points and play a very attractive style of rugby none too similar to that of Montpellier.
The game was only a minute old when Alex Tulou took the ball of Giorgi Jgenti in a ruck and powered over for the first try of the game, which Martin Bustos-Moyano converted, 7-0 to the hosts.
It’s always good to score early on but it seemed as though Montpellier thought that this would become a landslide victory and everyone wanted to get on the score board, often taking individual options that were not really the best choice, when playing the 15 man style of game would have been much better.
Unfortunely this carried on for most of the first half and chances went begging more often than not, and when the break arrived Montpellier were only 13-6 to the better after MBM  had converted a couple of penalties and his counter part Laharrague had done the same. Half time score Montpellier 13 Grenoble 6.
The General Galthie gave the team a good roasting at half time, even sending them out early to do some warming up in the now descending temperatures!! Grenoble joined them some 5 mins. later and the second half was on its way. Montpellier started with purpose and soon had Grenoble under the cosh but again individual choices ruined several possible scores, the Grenoble defence was also working overtime, but working very well and a large amount of last ditch tackling saved their bacon, a score would certainly prevail!!! After a couple of yellows for Figallo and Edwards, Montpellier had a 5 mts. scrum, twice the Ref awarded penalties to the home side and twice the Captain demanded scrum please Sir, Shontayne Hape joined as an extra flanker and Montpellier were centimetres from the Grenoble line with a big push on, when the Ref blew for the penalty try, which was deserved. MBM converted and the break had been made, with an earlier penalty from the same boot Montpellier had a lead of 23-6, and the score stayed their till the end of the game. 
The bonus point was not obtained but the match was won, which is the essential, Montpellier certainly did not play their best game of the season but coming out on top shows that even playing modestly they are a force that will not be dealt with easily by most of the other TOP 14 teams. The forwards again provided the platform for this victory especially the front five, Alex Tulou is playing out of his skin, the other Alex (Bias) also put in a great effort and he is certainly becoming an asset in the Montpellier squad, Francois Trinh-Duc played well from 10 but needs to keep an eye on his kicking game and Shontayne Hape was magnificent in defence with some big hits. The little big man Benoit Paillaugue distributed well from no.9 and kept his forwards moving in the right direction, until he was replaced by Jean Dejardin (Julien Tomas) later on. All this is a great platform to move onto Thursday’s game against bottom of the table Mont de Marsan, who has in their ranks two former Cistes Joan Cudullo and Vassili Bost.
A nice touch by Grenoble in the post match interviews, Fabrice Landreau presented Benoit Paillaugue with a 5kgs sac of walnuts a speciality from their region, the reason was that this weeks match poster in the circus theme had the little big man as the Montpellier nut cracker, the sport is always taken seriously but a little humour and goods sportsmanship goes a long way!!!  Well played Grenoble…..
Steve Whittell.
Pitch side interview with Alex Tulou Montpellier’s N°8
SW: Alex we will take the win but not one of our best games so far this season?
AT: No it certainly wasn’t we came out far too complacent we were far too confident and that is not good against a team like Grenoble we could have been punished for our irrational behaviour, but we have to acknowledge the win take it and move on, sometimes that’s the way it goes if you can win ugly it’s better than playing fast entertaining rugby and loosing.
SW: Today we were far too individual and the team game was out of the window too many players trying to get on the scoreboard..
AT: Exactly, these types of games you need to get into the system and play team rugby this is a collective sport and when players start being too individual things go badly wrong which could have happened today we were lucky to come away with the 4 points but things will be better on Thursday against Mont de Marsan.
SW: Do you think Shontayne Hape will make the grade as a flanker?
AT: He needs to work at it, but he said before the scrum it’s the second time he’s played there and this is all about experience you just never know when you are needed to play out of position, I did have a word with him before we scrummed down and said get your shoulder in and push like hell with that big backside of yours, we got the score so well done Shontayne we know who to call on if there is a next time.
SW: Cheers Alex, time for a beer and a shower and get ready for Thursday’s game.
Interview by Steve Whittell.