SOME PRIDE AND PASSION RESTORED.
Toulon is never an easy game in the Stade Mayol but with very little home support because of Covid restrictions the usual very noisy electric atmosphere was more a very scary silence that both teams were not used to. Montpellier with 2 games played and 2 defeats needed to pull their socks up and at the very least demonstrate that they are not the team which played miserably the first 2 games, and giving themselves the title of Champion of penalties.
The first half again was cluttered with penalties by Montpellier plus 2 yellows for Guirado and Tisseron, not at all the start that was needed and after the visit of Ref Ruiz during the week who tried to explain the new rules to the boys some were obviously not listening.
Montpellier had a couple of penalties early in the game from Bouthier who had the No.10 on his back after the injury to Pollard, Toulon had one from Carbonel just before the first try of the game from Toulon, Cordin finished off the try for Toulon joining the attacking three-quarter on the wing, passing a couple of Montpellier defenders with ease, who instead of getting the head down and the shoulders in with some muscle behind, tried the easier option of shirt grabbing which in today’s rugby is not really the acceptable option 10mts from your own try line.
Carbonel passed the conversion from the touchline with an excellent kick 13-6 for the hosts Toulon. The rest of the first half was fairly mundane from Montpellier, with them offering Toulon plenty of penalties and some insipid attacking which never really worried the Toulon defence. The ref finally blew for half time Garbajosa the Montpellier coach needed to give some harsh words to the boys hoping a better frame of mind for the second half.
What ever was said at half time seemed to work as Montpellier came out with a very different attitude, they attacked Toulon from the off with the forwards looking more athletic than the first 40, and it was not long before it started to pay. Galletier made a break just inside the Toulon half and freed his arms in the tackle to distribute the ball to scrum half Reinach, who is noted for his fleet of foot, no stopping this Saffa as he scampered behind the posts for the try, Bouthier add the extras and Montpellier were back in the game.
Montpellier were showing a new face and started playing some good rugby and minutes latter after pounding the Toulon line for several minutes the ball came out and passed 3 very quick pairs of hands for Rattez to go over in the corner, amazing hands and at speed.
Toulon hit back with 4 penalties from Carbonel after more indiscretions’ from Montpellier to take the score to 25-18. Bouthier knocked over a final penalty for Montpellier with just 10 mins. left on the clock. Montpellier camped on the Toulon try line and did their level best to score and sneak the win, but Toulon closed their defence gates and made sure that their line was well protected. Finally the Ref blew for full time with Montpellier a little frustrated as the victory could have been theirs, Toulon did look a little relieved to get the 4points. The first half was not good enough from Montpellier and if they had played better without the massive penalty count against them and playing for 20mins. at 14 with 2 yellows, things could have been so different.
There is light at the end of the tunnel this was a much better performance from the boys and if they continue in this vein, victories will start to happen, the defensive bonus point was well earned and not every team will go home from Mayol with it.
My Man of the Match was Kelian Galletier who playing at No.8 did everything that was asked of him and gave the pass for the first Montpellier try.
Next week is a home game v Agen, who are 14th while Montpellier still hold the 13th position so a battle of the giants who have heavy shoulders as they are supporting the other 12 teams but I’m sure that victories will happen and Montpellier should be climbing up the table to better position before the festivities of Christmas arrive.