THE BATTLE WITH THE BASQUES
Lundi 03 Décembre 2012
The 12th day of this season’s TOP 14 saw Montpellier playing hosts to Bayonne, the first game back after the Autumn Internationals, would we see players eager to impress or would it be a question of holiday blues. The evening temperature was dropping rapidly but the crowd of 11,161 was willing to make themselves heard.
Bayonne certainly did not have any blues as they came seriously looking for points and gave Montpellier lots to think about. Bayonne opened the scoring with a Boyet penalty that was quickly equalled out by Martin Bustos-Moyano, but with a scrum 5 mts. from the Montpellier try line Puricelli gathered and stormed over the line for the first try of the game, Boyet converted and Bayonne led 3-10. Montpellier were throwing the ball about but headway was not being made mostly due to the impeccable Basque defence who were stopping everything that Montpellier could throw at them, plus the hosts were making their customary mistakes and loosing a tremendous amount of ball, how Montpellier manage to start games like this is sometimes just unbelievable, but with another penalty by MBM they were trying to get themselves back into the game. Boyet claimed another penalty but Montpellier then produced some good forward pressure and using maximum weight sent Augustin Creevy over into the promised land. The young Marvin O’Connor got 10 mins in the bin for an outrageous tackle while the player was in the air luckily there were no serious injuries. Half time score Montpellier 11Bayonne16.
The second half was totally different as far as Montpellier were concerned, firstly they came out 5 mins. early to get themselves warmed up and ready to do Battle with the Basques, the game started with Montpellier throwing the ball from wing to wing and then back again, this orchestrated superbly by Francois Trinh-Duc, who started to take the game by the scruff of the neck and produce some excellent ball for his back line, finally this paid off with Alex Bias going over in the corner for an excellent try, MBM just missing the conversion. The fact that Mamuka Gorgodze came on for the start of the second half had an awful lot to do with the resurrection of Montpellier, although it was short lived for 10 mins. as he was shown a yellow along with Roumieu after a bout of serious handbags which the mighty Georgian came out on top, but with a shirt that was left in tatters and only good for the dustbin. Boyet added another penalty for Bayonne but the game was slowly swinging towards the home team and after more tremendous forward play Jonnie Beattie crashed over for a try which more or less sealed the game for the hosts, MBM added the extras, the lead now 29-19. On the stroke of the siren the man in the middle awarded Bayonne a penalty 40mts out which Potgeiter knocked over to gain that precious defensive bonus point for Bayonne, which they probably deserved as their defensive throughout the game was top class and one can only wonder why they are in the depths of the TOP 14, they are a much better side than that!!!
Montpellier after a dodgy start showed lots of class in the second half and deserved their win but against better sides they must start to play from the off, with aggression and more passion, leaving the elementary mistakes on the training park, far too often they have to chase the game which is never easy. The forwards again earned their money and Alex Bias had another excellent game alongside Captain Fulgence Ouedraogo, who gave his normal 100%, Mamuka was his normal self a mountain powerhouse, he just needs to inflict pain without getting caught. Francois Trinh-Duc after a frustrating time on the bench for the Autumn Internationals showed that he is still a major player in the big league and orchestrated well from the 10 spot giving excellent ball throughout the game. The next two weeks Montpellier return to Heineken mode, with firstly Cardiff Blues away next Sunday and the return home game the following Saturday 15th Dec KO. 19.00, Montpellier is still in a position to qualify but they must win both these two games!!!
Pitch side interview with Jonnie Beattie Montpellier’s Scottish International N°8
Steve Whittell: Jonnie that was a good win, but a difficult game certainly very tough up front?
Jhonnie Beattie: Yes very tough, we did not play as we wanted in the first half at all, with such a bad start we were always in a lot of trouble, but slowly the game started to come our way later in the first half. We did have numerous try scoring opportunities but either the ball went to ground or we made some bad choices. This was not at all what we wanted, but it did come good in the end, but we did make a massive effort in the second half.
SW: You got yourself on the score board good try after some excellent pressure from the forwards.
JB: Yes definitely, always good to go over the line and it showed how intense the second half had become, sometimes not the prettiest of moves but when the forwards get rumbling we do tend to make good ground and although I scored it was a team effort from all to get that vital 10pts. lead with just a few minutes to go.
SW: The most important is the 4 pts we collected, even though they managed the defensive bonus point at the very end.
JB: Of course, the win is the most important of all with or without the bonus point, and it keeps momentum we are going forward which is the most important, we have had a pretty good first half of the season and are reasonably well placed. We have to continue in the same way to the very end to make sure we have one of those 6 qualifying places. If the truth was know Bayonne deserved their bonus point, they played well and gave us loads of problems, difficult to understand their TOP 14 position they are a much better team than that.
SW: Thanks Jonnie, H Cup next weekend in Cardiff best of luck for that…
Interview by Steve Whittell.