Montpellier have their cage rattled by Bayonne !

Le 17 février 2020

The visitors this weekend at the GGL Stadium was Bayonne, promoted this season and they have had a brilliant start to their season, but as time goes on like so many others they are stuck in a rut without a win for sometime. This said the boys must give them the respect they have already earned and deserved in this season’s TOP 14 as they are still a very good team, especially their forwards who are known for their very robust performances.

Montpellier had several players missing, injuries to some Guirado, Picamoles Immelman plus our 5 players, Haouas, Bouthier, Ngandebe, Willemse, and Vincent who are in Paris getting ready for next weekends 6 Nations clash away in Cardiff v Wales. But despite that, there was still plenty of class players for Xavier Garbajosa to select from. The weather was fine practically no wind or rain and an average crowd of 8,000 to cheer on the boys, the attendances this season are not anywhere as good as in recent seasons but maybe that has something to do with the 8th position in this seasons Championship, start a run of victories and surely that will change to a more positive number.

The game was started by  M. Chalon and Bayonne looked as though they meant business, attacking the Montpellier defence and they took an early lead with a penalty from Lafarge 0-3 to Bayonne. It did not take long for Montpellier to get back the lead, a clean attack and a grubber kick from Goosen past the defence, which gave Nadolo the chance to dive onto the pigskin as it passed into the hallowed ground, Pollard added the extras with an excellent kick from the touchline 7-3 to the hosts. The game was going both ways and Bayonne were not giving in to the Montpellier attacks they provided some good rugby themselves and were unlucky not to score on several occasions. Alofa got himself a yellow for a deliberate knock on and Bayonne were down to 14 for the nest 10mins, seconds later the exact same try from Nadolo as the first the only difference Benoit Paillauge kicked the through ball and again Nadolo dived on it in the corner, an on form Pollard again added the extras from the touch line 14-3. Bayonne intensified their challenge with 2 quick tries, the first from Collet after a massive rolling maul from their forwards then Duhau after some very clever work a kick and chase into the try area, after several mins. of video Mon.  Chalon awarded the try and Bayonne were back in the lead 14-15. on the stroke of half time Montpellier got themselves a penalty which Pollard knocked over for a very slender lead at the break 17-15.

The second half got under way and this was still anyone’s game, in the 48th min. Bismark du Plessis got hold of the ball and if Goosen and Paillaugue can grubber kick behind the defence so can he, which he did Yvan Reilhac collected kicked over the last defender and them scampered under the sticks, again Pollard added the extras and there was clear light between the two teams 24-15. Minutes later Nadolo got his third and the hatrick, this time with a little help from the forwards who attacked the Bayonne line and it was Nemsie who got the ball down for his 3rd try, again the on form Pollard hit the extras 31-15. Could Montpellier get another try and the bonus point as they now had a clear lead? Bayonne came back at Montpellier with 2 more tries firstly Delonca then a very classy try which saw Van Lil split the home defence and give the final pass to Muscarditz, excellent try from the Basques, from nowhere Bayonne were just shy of 2very small points 31-29. That was the final score of the game, Pollard hit the upright with a late penalty and the game ended with Montpellier booting the ball out of play, from a commanding lead the Montpellier defence faulted on several occasions to let Bayonne back into the game and they came away with regrets a single bonus point but it could have been so much more for them. Another win at home not playing that well but still 4pts, lets see what they can do when they play very well!!!

Nadolo was Man of the Match with his hat-trick of tries. Maybe the coaching staff will want to keep him next season as he has now passed the +50 tries in around 60+games for his club a very well deserved performance. The next 2 weeks will be difficult with away games first at Toulouse and then Pau, Montpellier must take at least 5pts from these next games to keep in contention for the Top 6 qualification at the end of the season.

There is still plenty of hard work to be done in training as the boys have these brilliant moments where the rugby is very classy and then moments where concentration is completely lost giving the opposition the window to get back into the game, if this addressed then they should keep marching forward without any embarrassing reversals.

Steve Whittell.