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Le 28 novembre 2011


Under brilliant blue skies and a temperature reminding everyone of summer, plus the largest crowd of the season so far, the Stade Yves du Manoir had a very respectable 13,205, everything was set for a thrilling encounter Montpellier v Clermont, all the World Cup players back in their respective teams and all raring to go, an afternoon of fast running rugby?
Within minutes of the ko. Montpellier had their noses in front with 2 Benoit Paillaugue penalties, the forwards were playing  a commanding game upfront and advanced more than they retreated, but Clermont being Clermont got themselves level by the 25 min.  with 2 Skrela penalties.
Montpellier had not crossed the try line but it was not without trying, they hammered at the Clermont defence like men possessed and then a moment of Trinh-Duc magic, hold the ball, go inside then outside and then the rabbit came out of the hat with a millimetre precise grubber kick for Timmy Nagusa to pounce like a leopard on hunting duty, a dive on the bouncing ball and 5 points for Montpellier, Benoit Paillaugue added the extras, Montpellier 13 Clermont 6.
Just before the break for lemons Paillaugue added another penalty and Montpellier purred into half time 16-6 to the good.
The second half saw Clermont with a renewed lease of life and they were soon back on the score board, the ball came quick from a ruck and Bardy squeezed between players to go into the hallowed ground, Skrela transformed and Clermont were back in the game 16-13. 
In the 56 min. Paillaugue hit a mammoth penalty from 50mts out to edge Montpellier 6 points the better, then defending  on their own 10mts. line, the Mighty Mamuka stole a ball gave a pass to Lucas Amorosino who drew his opposite no. and gave the ball to Timmy TGV Nagusa who only had only 85 mts to get to the line, never in any doubt, he rounded the first, then accelerated past the second defending Clermont player and  went from 2nd gear into 5th and left everybody watching the high spirited Fijian pull into the Twickenham station, not only on time but in advance, plant the ball over the line and he had to wait for the accolades from his team mates as no one could catch him!!! Paillaugue added the 2 points for the conversion 29-13 the match well and truly sewn up?
With 8 mins. left on the clock Clermont attacked, and Parra dived over in the corner he converted his own try and Clermont were only 9 points in arrears.
A silly quick touch found Montpellier struggling 25 mts from their own line and a penalty was awarded, Parra made no mistake and pumped over the 3 points to get Clermont in defensive point territory. A very nerve racking last 2 mins but Montpellier held onto the ball till the siren and Trinh-Duc smashed the ball high into the stand to finish the game, a well fought and deserved victory for the home side.
 A victory which was based on the front five who never ceased to put pressure on their opposite pack in the loose or the tight, the backs threw the ball about sometimes with hearts in their hands but no disasters and the defence excellent, line outs need work but all in all a very good showing and much appreciated by the huge crowd. Montpellier has finally created a platform and now they must move on!!! Lyon on Wed. night and Biarritz the following Sun. 8 points up for grabs we need those points and we must go to these 2 away games with the mental attitude that success is the only formula available. 
Steve Whittell.