- Equipe pro
Black Friday turns into victorious saturda
The Autumn Internationals are about finished so the TOP 14 is again back with us until the start of the 6 Nations in the New Year.
After their loss at home to Racing, Montpellier are off to Agen the town famous for its prune cultivation, and hoping that Montpellier do not get their faces pruned as it is never easy playing this team headed by one of the all time great French International Philippe Sella. Montpellier are not in the best of positions at the moment in this season’s TOP 14, and really need to win this game to kick start their season. Montpellier had 6 players on International duties plus the still injured, this left Coach Vern Cotter a headache for his selection and he included, first time selection for Ushangi Tcheisvili at loose head prop. The young Georgian would have a big task on his hands to keep the coach happy. There were also starting places for the youngsters Giudicelli, Kornath,Vincent, and the ever present Yvan Reilhac all Jiff and all excellent players who are earning their stripes in a very competitive world of rugby.
Aaron Cruden got the game started and it was Agen first on the score board with a penalty from McIntyre, 3-0 to the hosts, but this was quickly cancelled out by a penalty from Ruan Pienaar 3-3 and all to play for, further penalties were added, one apiece to move the score onto 6-6 by the very same players. Montpellier took charge of the game and had numerous occasions to score but last ditch tackles or a bad choice kept the score board clean of tries until a brilliant break from the young Arthur Vincent, he made yards and flipped the ball to Francois Steyn who did the rest and went over under the sticks, the extras were added by Ruan Pienaar and Montpellier had advanced to 6-13. Minutes later the ref blew for the break and Montpellier had a 6pts lead which if they could hold on during the next 40mins, a very valuable 4pts in the pocket.
The second half started and Montpellier were doing their level best to control the game, Pienaar using either the boot or excellent passing to keep the Agenais on the back foot, but as also Agen started to make massive efforts to get back into the game, penalties were given away and Berdeu gladly accepted, he added another 6pts with the boot to bring the score to a very close 12-13 but good defence kept Agen from scoring any tries, but on several occasions it was getting very hot for Montpellier near their try line.
In the 73rd min. a scrum for Montpellier 15mts out, the ball was won and Pienaar shot from the base of the scrum threw a dummy pass which opened the gap for him to stride through and dive over in the corner, an excellent piece of work from the South African scrum half who had been showing his class all game. He missed his own conversion but that lead of 12-18 could be just enough if the Montpellier defence bricked up the wall. Agen got a late penalty to get the bonus defensive point from Berdeu 15-18 but they could not get over the try line. FInally the ref blew for full time and the victory was Montpellier’s a very well earned 4pts.
Although it was a good performance they are still little errors creeping into Montpellier’s game, which need to be cancelled out before the home game next week v Clermont who will probably be sitting on top of the TOP 14 after their Sunday game at home v Lyon. The 2 players who showed the way forward today for Montpellier were Ruan Pienaar and Jacques du Plessis, the big blonde Thor just back from a long injury lay off performed as we all know he can, and looks as though it will not take many matches for him to get back to his old self. The youngsters also did their level best and showed that given the chance they can perform at the highest level and keep Coach Vern Cotter happy, but he is not called Stern Vern for nothing, and of course Francois Steyn is always there and always puts his 100% into his game good to see him back from a 4 weeks injury.
Next Saturday Dec 1st KO 14.45 v Clermont a match that will probably have as much, if not more importance than the match today v Agen.