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Le 12 avril 2011


Most of the regular first team players were either nursing their injuries or having a well deserved rest. The Gentle Giant and the General (Bechu, Galthie) placed their confidence in the Team that had qualified  for this seasons Amlin Challenge quarter finals against Stade Francais in Paris on Friday evening.
Having very little playing time together over the last few months gave Montpellier’s Challenge team a massive task against a very strong Parisian side. With little to play for at the end of this season  the only possibility for the Guazzinii Boys to have H Cup qualification next season would be to win the Amlin Challenge, hence a full XV with plenty of Internationals on show for the Parisians.
Montpellier started the game at a 100kms an hour scoring freely, taking a 16 points lead after only 20 mins, with captain for the night Benoit Paillaugue slotting over 3 penalties and a conversion after an excellent try by Dimitri Pelo. The unlucky Montpellier no.9 took a bang on the ankle and had to leave the playing field limping badly, he was replaced by the young Adrien Tomas. Stade Francais fought back through tries from Southwell and Palmer to go into the break still in arrears by 12-19.
The second half saw the Stade forwards come into their own with a scrum that gave the front 8 from Montpellier huge problems and the only gear that the visitors could find was reverse. A penalty try followed after Montpellier were shoved off the ball and behind their own try line, only  minutes later a walk in try by Burban the Paris flanker, and finally Stade were showing their supporters something to cheer about.
Raphael Lagarde however kept Montpellier in the game with a string of penalties, a couple from over 50mts with his deadly accurate boot, the visitors did creep to within 4 points of Stade but could not find that magic that would have given them a victory. Finally Stade came out winners by 32-28.
Absolutely no blushes for Montpellier who battled hard throughout the encounter giving their very best, a special mention to Lionel Dargier, the young Espoir having his first outing with the Top 14 team, he let no one down and can be a very proud young man, 80 mins. of top class rugby now under his belt, satisfaction beyond doubt!!!  Someone to watch in the not too distant future.
Steve Whittell.