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Mission accomplished

Le 22 avril 2013



Montpellier qualified for the end of season play-offs on Saturday thanks to a little help from Agen, although they narrowly lost to Bayonne by 32-26 they obtained the defensive bonus point and USAP came away from Agen with nothing, which guarantees H Cup next season and a crack at the play-offs in 3 weeks time, more than likely the 1/4 final will be away to Toulouse or Castres but nothing is set in concrete just yet, we will have to wait for a couple of weeks to see the final placings.
Montpellier normally do very well at Bayonne, but this weekend the home side had shored up their defence and made things very difficult for the visitors. Bayonne were the first on the score board with a well worked try from winger O’Connor who came through the gap after a long line out throw, no one could get near him, the young Ugalde playing only his 2nd TOP 14 game added the extras 7-0. 
Benoit Paillaugue was on form with the boot and slotted over penalties from a good distance especially one from inside his own half (55mts), the two kickers exchanged penalties up to the 34th min when Paillaugue hit another and Montpellier gained the lead for the first time in the match 10-12.
The 36th min bought a bizarre situation, Gerber chipped a ball into the visitors try line area and Paillaugue running back juggled the ball and it went dead, the ref Mon. Poite asked for the video, a yellow was on the cards and probably a penalty to Bayonne as it seemed Paillaugue had purposely pushed the ball dead, the yellow was shown to Paillaugue, a fair decision but then the ref awarded the penalty try under the sticks, very harsh as the rules say it must be a certain try and this was not the case, as a knock on was possible, or just a bad bounce of the ball could have fooled everyone!!!! Ugalde added the extras. 
Montpellier down to 14 players, a couple of minutes later the ref decided that Jonnie Beattie had shoulder tackled Senekal and Montpellier were down to 13 another yellow, the penalty given to Bayonne was converted and at the break Bayonne were 20-12 to the good, but the second half Montpellier would have to play the first 6 mins with only 13 players on the park.
The second half got under way and Montpellier fought for their lives and kept Bayonne from scoring, they nearly scored themselves on a couple of occasions, their commitment was tremendous, with only 13 players, eventually  both carded players came back onto the park and the score had not changed. 
Montpellier played better in the 2nd half but still the errors were far too many and the penalty count too high, they did however manage a try through Alex Tulou after a real mess up in the in goal area, the ball came loose several players tried to ground the ball but all failed until Alex dived and got that all important touchdown. The rest of the scoring was all from penalties; Ugalde got himself 4 more, while Paillaugue knocked over 3 in the second half.
The final score Bayonne 32 Montpellier 26.
By far the worst game Montpellier have played for a long time discipline out of the window errors by the bucketful,  and a total lack of commitment, having said all that, the bigger picture is qualification for the play-offs, H Cup next season, these were the targets set at the beginning of the season, and one bad game does not condemn a whole season, so for effort well played Montpellier and with one match at home to go in 2 weeks time against USAP,  Montpellier have one more point than they finished with at the end of last season, that in itself is Progress!!!
Steve Whittell.