MONTPELLIER HIT A BRICK WALL DEFENCE
Champions Cup for the next two weeks and Montpellier had the very difficult journey of taking on Toulouse in their home city, never easy and although Toulouse are playing a little hot and cold, mainly due to this year’s World Cup, they are still a formidable team at home. Montpellier and Coach Xavier Garbajosa had selected a team which could do the business if they played as a unit, the weather maybe their downfall as heavy rain continued to fall throughout the game. The referee for the game was Wayne Barnes who is one of the world’s best so hopefully he will assist in a game of pure rugby even though the conditions were against it.
Toulouse started the game and they attacked from the start, they were more aggressive and certainly dominant in all phases of play, which gave Montpellier long moments of defending and they were having difficulty keep their try line untouched. The Montpellier pack that was so powerful last week against Lyon seemed to have lost all their momentum and power and was being shoved around the pack in no uncertain terms. Toulouse had the first score with a Ramos penalty 3-0 and minutes later added another to open up a 6pts. gap. Toulouse were playing a game of pure aggression by their pack and the ball was being thrown about by the backs in no uncertain terms, Montpellier having little ball were on the receiving end and could only defend for their lives, but it looked as if Toulouse could score any minute. In the 36 minutes that try was scored, the forwards hammered the Montpellier try line for several minutes before the tiniest gap appeared but it was just big enough for Ntamack to dive over and score very near to the sticks, Ramos had no problems adding the extras 13-0 to the hosts. On the stroke of half time Benoit Paillaugue kicked Montpellier’s first penalty and everyone went to the break, the score 13-3. A very difficult first half for Montpellier where they were hit by a brick wall defence every time they tried to make ground up the park, but with a 10 points deficit they were still in the game but they needed more ball and try to use it to the best of their ability.
The second half got underway and it was much more of the same, Toulouse kept the ball for long periods of the gamer and Montpellier defended trying to keep the rampant Toulouse attack from scoring more tries. Francois Steyn knocked over a 50 meters penalty with relative ease despite the heavy conditions which brought the score to within 7pts. for Montpellier but they were being overrun and had little ball to try and get that all important first try which could level the game, and help them to obtain something from this match. Benoit Paillaugue hit the post with a penalty attempt and the ball was cleared without problems.
50th minuts and Montpellier attacked, Steyn threw a long pass but Ntamack saw it and pounced on the interception leaving him a 60 meters run in, nobody got anywhere near him and he went over into the hallowed ground unopposed, again Ramos added the extras and Toulouse were well clear 20-6. A well taken try and these long passes sometimes just do not work this was one of those times. Montpellier were again falling into their indiscipline which is a continual problem this season, the referees whistle was having a field day, he warned Montpellier on a couple of times and then decided to act giving Louis Picamoles a 10 minuts rest in the bin, but it could have been anyone of the forwards as they were all contributing to the erroneous discipline. Final penalties were added for both teams and the score was 23-9 when Wayne Barnes blew for full time, no points for Montpellier and 4 points for Toulouse which keeps them in a nearly qualified position, Montpellier however will probably need 15 points from their last 3 games which could be a massive task. Montpellier were blown away in the set pieces, and the rucks were not much better, yes the conditions were awful but Toulouse did manage them better, so hard work this coming week before the return match on Sat 14th December KO 16.15 against the very same Toulouse who will be looking for a premature qualification.