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Leader Lyon taken apart by rampant Montpellier !

Le 02 décembre 2019

Championship leaders Lyon were the visitors this Sat. evening, sitting on top of this seasons TOP 14, they are playing some excellent rugby and will be very difficult opponents, after a couple of weeks of Euro rugby we are back to the hard slog of the TOP 14.

The evening was typical Nov. dull, cold, and plenty of sleeting rain which would make handling a precarious task, a good crowd of 10,600 turned out to watch and support the home team who had several players back from injury, including a very hungry Bismark Du Plessis, who would have ex Montpellier hooker Mikael Ivaldi opposite him, so that should be a battle between the pair of them. The game started very well for Montpellier, the forwards must have been on a diet of meat, meat and more meat as they were rampant, Lyon could not do much to stop them and every ruck, maul, or scrum they trundled forward, they got satisfaction in the 8th min when they progressed towards the line and Nemsie Nadolo finished the work of for the team, Benoit Paillaugue added the extras for a 7-0 lead. The boys were playing some good clean rugby, very few penalties given away which has been a thorn in the side during several of the last weeks. Everything they did was simple but efficient, and Lyon really could not cope with the situation, playing 15 man rugby is by far the best way of defeating even the Championship leaders.

Francois Steyn had a penalty attempt from all of 55mts. he was cms. short as it crept just under the transversal, but a great attempt especially with the rain beating down, Montpellier continued their onslaught and it was only a matter of time before there were additions to the scoreboard. Lyon had a try disallowed after video which saw the final pass a country mile in front, but it was a first warning for the home side, Lyon have a very good attack and use it to the best of their ability. ;Still Montpellier were dominating the close quarter battles and after a line out and a good forward rumble Bismark Du Plessis was over the line, this player has been sadly missed while injured and great to see him back stealing ruck ball and generally making inroads into the opposition defence.

La Paille again added the extras and the Montpellier were 14-0 up, Lyon on the other hand were struggling to make any impact on the game, and Ivaldi got himself a 10mins. rest after Lyon had infringed just too many times, the ref showed him the yellow card and off he went Coming up to half time the next score was from Louis Picamoles again the rolling maul and then the big man escaped and nobody could stop him from that close, again La Paille added the extras and Montpellier had a 21-0 lead impressive against the TOP 14 leaders. Finally the ref blew for the break and while Montpellier were riding high on confidence the Lyon coach Pierre Mignoni would be having words with his team. Before the second half got underway both teams came out early and did a mini warm up, different but always an advantage to start fit and ready. When the ref started the game it was much of the same, Montpellier the aggressor and Lyon fighting for their lives in defence. Lyon did get a penalty which was transformed by Wisniewski but difficult to understand losing by 3 tries to zero they did not try for touch and relieve the boys of their already gained bonus point.

Benoit Paillaugue had his first miss when Montpellier were awarded a penalty the ball just escaping the upright at the last minute. Montpellier had to wait a while for their 4th try which was a superb affair with the ball going through several hands before Nico Vans Rensburg scored, this time the La Paille did not miss, bonus point secured and Montpellier had a 28-3 lead. Once again Montpellier attacked, the forwards doing some great work upfront, Youri Dehommel got his hands on the ball and scampered the last 20mts to go over for the 5try of the evening, La Paille narrowly missed the conversion from the touchline but Montpellier sealed their victory with 5tries to zero. Lyon did go over for a consolation try by Mignot after a cross kick from Wisniewski, but he then missed the conversion, final score 33-8 to Montpellier. ;Probably the best game Montpellier have played this season, and against the current Championship leaders, Lyon were never in contention and the score could have been more but the boys stuck to their task gave nothing away, the discipline was excellent and all the players contributed to a fine game with really only one team on the park. The Man of the match was a difficult affair as it could have gone to several; personally it would have been Bismarck Du Plessis for me,he can be such a poison for the opposition and great to see him on the park again after his long injury, but in the end Nemsie Nadolo got it but he also deserved something.

All in all a brilliant performance by the boys and all are to be congratulated, especially the forwards who just dismissed the opposition in no uncertain times, Lyon are nicknamed the Wolves but tonight it was they who went to the slaughter, predators eaten alive by some very hungry and demanding Montpellerians. ;Next 2 weeks we are back to Euro Champions Cup with an away then home game against Toulouse, two more very difficult games for the team, but play like tonight and who knows?

Steve Whittell.