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CREATION EXCELLENT, FINISHING NEEDS WORK

Lundi 04 Novembre 2013
The last TOP 14 day and this being the 11th, before the Autumn Internationals and a well deserved week’s holiday for all those not concerned by the Internationals, but before that the small matter of Grenoble FC, who was this Saturday’s visitor to the Stade Yves du Manoir. Grenoble promoted last season to the Elite were having a reasonably good start to the season and were lying 6th before today’s game, they have an excellent set of forwards who have caused many teams plenty of problems so far this season. Montpellier with two defeats in the last two games needed to stop a premature slide backwards, so this game had to be won at all costs. Many were talking about a bonus (5pts) win but this season’s TOP 14 is not going to produce many of those this year. This has to the toughest season ever, with away wins far and few between, but Montpellier was at home so a win it had to be.
 
The game started well for Montpellier attacking from the very off but after a missed Pelissie penalty Grenoble were first on the score board with a penalty from their  No.9 Hart, then another was added by winger Caminati, Grenoble 6-0 to the good. Montpellier were just about controlling the game but scoring was difficult with a very strong Grenoble defence, however Montpellier did get over the line in the 15th minute after a series of try line pounding, Mamuka Gorgodze dived over using every kilo of his immense force, Pelissie added the extras and Montpellier had their noses in front 7-6. Penalties were exchanged again and the score moved to 10-9. Montpellier were finding chances but the finishing was something to be desired, so Francois Trinh-Duc hit a wobbly but true drop, after 36mins he then hit another which was pure class which took Montpellier into the break 16-12 in front. Unfortunately they would have to start the 2nd. half with 14 on the park as Jimmy Nagusa crunched a tackle which Mon. Cloute the Ref decided was of the illegal sort, and Jimmy was sent to the cooler for 10mins. 
 
The 2nd half saw Benoit Paillaugue who had to replace an injured Jonathon Pelissie make the most of his excellent penalty kicking he added another 3 to the score while Hart passed a couple more for Grenoble which kept then in touch throughout the match. Montpellier tried nearly every move that has been created on the training pitch, and a few nearly worked, but last ditch errors failed to move the try scoring forward there was also some excellent defending from Grenoble. Alex Bias had 10 mins. in the cooler after another crunch tackle that Mon. Cloute deemed illegal, but Grenoble shortly afterwards received a red for Campo who clothes lined The Little Big Man he was very lucky to keep his head firmly connected to his shoulders, after much deliberation of assistant Ref and video Ref the bright shiny red was produced and Campo went for an early shower, it was deserved!!!
Alex Bias came back on with 3 minutes of the game remaining and Montpellier had to defend with courage, guts, spilling blood while doing so, but they kept Grenoble out with some bone crunching tackles often by 2 or 3 players knocking the opposition back several mts. at a time.
The final whistle was blown and Montpellier sealed their victory, a well deserved bonus point for Grenoble which if the truth was know, that is what they came for, the final score: Montpellier 25 Grenoble 18.
 
This season seems to be a constant Battle with all the teams, and points will have to be won, nothing will be given away, but with a weeks well deserved holiday, for an exhausted squad of players, they can rest knowing that they share Top of the Table with Toulon, but the 1st 10 teams are within 5 points of each other!!! Tough is an understatement this season!!! The Montpellier pack are getting better by the game and everyone is pulling their weight, the backs create the chances and the finishing is not quite there just yet, but it’s work in progress and after 11 days of Top 14 Joint leaders is not too shabby. Happy holidays for the boys who are not concerned with Internationals and the next game is another toughie Saturday 23rd Nov at home KO 14.15, to current reigning TOP 14 Champions Castres, another game that will have no charity donations.
 
Pitch side interview with new signing, JP du Plessis, Montpellier’s South African centre.
 
Steve Whittell: Your very first game with Montpellier coming off the bench how did you find it, tough no doubt?
 
JP Duplessis: I’ll say, it’s really tough and very fast but what an incredible experience especially for someone my age, I would just like to thank Fabien Galthie for giving me the opportunity, this is so exciting I just want more, the physical side of the game is immense, the tackles are just like back home, but the speed of the game, you really have little time to think, and concentration is all important.
 
Steve Whittell: First time in the Stadium, the atmosphere, the supporters, did you enjoy it?
 
JP Duplessis: Fantastic, the spirit that  bounces of the supporters is great, this transforms into  motivation for the players, I only came on for the last 10 mins but it’s so intense and you just do not want to let your team mates down, so it’s on the edge stuff all the time but I love it and want more.
 
Steve Whittell: First appearance and a 4 point win that’s not too shabby.
 
JP Duplessis: Definitely I will take that every time, this is a good win for us, yes we made mistakes but I am sure we can improve on the performance today, we are doing exceptionally well but we have to continue in the same vein, hard work is always a good order of the day, this is one tough competition but the tougher it is the better I enjoy it.
 
Steve Whittell: That’s the first one under the belt, well played JPP, as it is never easy, the best of luck for the next, and rest of the season; I think you have made the right choice coming to Montpellier.
 
Resume & Interview by Steve Whittell.