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THE CURSE OF CASTRES CONTINUES!!!

Lundi 25 Novembre 2013
After more or less a weeks holidays, and two weeks of training for some, the others all on International duties, and at Montpellier these days that means 7/8 players away for up to a month for their respective countries, nothing is ever easy in November. The good news was the long awaited arrival of Southern Hemisphere signings, the All Black Rene Ranger and the Springbok Robert Ebersohn, they have both been at the club now for 3 weeks little time for them to adapt to the their playing roles with Montpellier but they were probably going to take part in the first match back, after the Autumn break against Castres. The other new signing, a medical replacement for Chippie Figallo, the Tongan born front row forward Paea Fa’anunu of typical Tongan prop size (1.87cms for 147kgs) a very strong looking 25 year old who certainly you would want on your side seeing the damage this bus load of muscles could create, Paea only arrived last Sunday so he is just about over jet lag and nothing else. Castres also without several players all on International duty, but remember they are reigning French TOP 14 Champions so respect must be given, plus if there are any curses on Montpellier, Castres would be their monkey on the back, three ¼ final play-offs and only once has Montpellier come out winners so they must be treated with the utmost care and attention.
 
The start of the match in front of a very healthy 13,703 was mostly played by the visitors in the Montpellier 22 and the dividends paid of for Castres, with 2 penalties from infringements which did not need to happen, 0-6 to the visitors. The Castres front five were extremely dominant and Montpellier was being pushed around the park with comparative ease, but four of Montpellier’s props were away on International duty or injured and the opposition led by ex Montpellerian Julien Tomas was relishing the task.!!! After only 26 mins. of being dragged around the park, Mario Ledesma changed Barry Faamausili and on came our new signing Paea Fa’anunu, this brick wall very quickly adapted to his task and settled the problem in the front row, first impressions excellent. The three quarters were trying all sorts of combinations led by a very prominent Francois Trinh-Duc who brought Rene Ranger into the game on numerous occasions, but it was a a step inside and off load to Wynand Olivier who expertly rounded the full back to go over for the first try of the game, the extras were added by the Little Big Man. Montpellier 7 Castres 6, a penalty apiece and the teams went to the break 10-9 advantage Montpellier.
 
The second half was a scrappy affair with Montpellier being penalised far too often by Mon Berdos who now and again was very harsh towards the home side. Palis who replaced Dulin on International duty, preformed his task with  expert ease knocking over 2 penalties and scoring the only try for Castres, a cross field kick from Kirkpatrick which left little defence, and he was able to stroll over the line and more or less put paid to Montpellier’s chances of winning this game. The Little Big Man added 2 penalties of his own before being replaced by Jonathon Pelissie in the 60th min, Montpellier had a last 10 minute launch at the Castres line but to no avail, ball lost, players going a yard to far and being isolated, nothing worked for Montpellier and the first TOP 14 home defeat of the season, a match which was well in the grasp of Montpellier but they looked ragged and unorganised in many departments. The Curse of Castres Continues, and ex Montpellerian Julien Tomas was a happy bunny with the 4 points firmly in his pocket. Montpellier has to pick up the pieces and turn this around. The three quarters showed tremendous potential and several times fell just short but  up front disappointment was the order of the day, so many times have the Montpellier pack bullied the opposition but today “The light was on but nobody was at home”!!! 
 
Final score Montpellier 16 Castres 20 a very small defensive bonus point for the home side, next Saturday Montpellier are away in Paris against Racing Metro another very difficult task but somewhere away wins need to be produced.
 
Interview with Rene Ranger, Montpellier’s All Black centre/wing.
 
Steve Whittell: First match for Montpellier but not the result we were looking for, what are your thoughts after your first appearance?
 
Rene Ranger: Firstly very disappointed, it would have been great to start with a win it was not to be, we will have to go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong, Castres are an excellent team and very difficult to manoeuvre, we did not have enough ball in the backs to produce what I think we are capable of doing, but with hard work I am sure we are going to be much better than the performance today.
 
Steve Whittell: You may not know it but Castres are in some ways the curse of Montpellier so many times we have lost important games against them!!
 
Rene Ranger: They are a top team and although not exciting, they are very difficult opposition, excellent up front and they make very few mistakes a team you have to give the utmost respect to or you come away disappointed just like today.
 
Steve Whittell: There will be many more games to come this can be turned around
 
Rene Ranger: Definitely, we have to work harder, this is all very new, there is the problem of the language but even after only 3 weeks, I know this is not Montpellier’s finest hour there is much more to come from this team and I am sure we will do better, much better in the future!!
 
Steve Whittell: Thanks Rene go join the boys could be a difficult long night.
 
Resume & Interview by Steve Whittell.