• ChroniqueChronique


Le 01 février 2021

The bad run of results has to stop one day, and when that day comes everything will change, Montpellier will not finish 13th in this season’s TOP 14. The game this weekend saw Racing lying 4th visit Montpellier a difficult game and Montpellier would have to be on their guard as Racing 92 has an excellent attack and a defence considered one of the best in the TOP 14 they concede very few tries and their defence is one of brick walls. Once again the Stadium was an empty shell still void of supporters as Covid is still a massive problem in France, two games this weekend again postponed because of it, the sooner this comes to end the better for everyone concerned.

The game got underway and it was a tight struggle with both defences keeping their try line well protected, Racing 92 had the majority of the ball but could not break the good Montpellierian defence, they had their opportunities but Montpellier held strong. The only points came from penalties, Racing 92 were very obliging and offered several to Montpellier in the first half, the first one of long distance from Henry Immelman then 3 from Benoit Paillaugue, these were counter acted by Maxime Machenaud which brought the score to 12-6 after 30 minuts, neither team looked like scoring as the defences were working overtime, how ever just before half time Racing 92 attacked and Louis Dupichot went over in the corner after some good work from their three quarters, the extras were missed and minuts later the referee blew for the break with Montpellier having a very narrow but deserved lead of one very tiny point 12-11.

The second half got under way and again penalties were exchanges between Benoit Paillaugue and maxime Machenaud moving the score onto 15-14, then what everybody has been waiting for that Montpellier try, the backs attacked and a well executed grubber kick from the young Yvan Reilhac gave Gabbie Ngandebe the chance to show his speed, he collected and rounded the last 2 defenders to score, the extras were added and Montpellier had an 8 points lead : 22-14.

The last 20 minuts were exciting to say the least Racing 92 got another try from Oliver Klemenczac which was converted by Antoine Gibert and Racing 92 and Montpellier were separated by just one tiny point 22-21. What happened minuts later was a yellow for Gabriel Ngandebe, the referee said not moving from the tackle quick enough, but if everybody moved away as quickly as Gabriel Ngandebe did no, yellows would be given for this offence, very harsh and I have seen many go unpunished which were much worse.

Could Montpellier hold out till the 80 minuts, they had a few close calls and some brilliant line out steals on their 5 meters line, in fact 8 steals throughout the match which was quite incredible leaving Racing 92 wondering how to win their own line out ball, however the scrum did not work as well as the line outs and with only 2 minuts left on the clock the scrum yielded and Racing 92 had a penalty moreorless in front of the sticks which made a far too many count of 17 penalties, Antoine Gibert stepped up and converted and the rest is history, another last minut defeat : 22-24.

The players battled throughout the game but came up just short, this seems to be our Covid this season, there is a defending bonus point which is important but all would have preferred the win and 4 points. You could see the disappointment on Montpellier’s faces but another week of confidence boosting hard work and that win will just be around the corner. Maybe lots of pancakes and Cider on Tuesday with plenty of southern French sunshine make will help to get that all important victory next week vs Stade Francais Paris.

Steve Whittell.