Steve's chronicle

News

FABIEN GALTHIE’S PREPARATIONS PAY DIVIDENTS

Lundi 24 Mars 2014
Montpellier had a very difficult away game at Oyonnax this Saturday evening, the only team to win there this season was Stade Francais, Clermont, Toulon, Castres and Racing have all lost this season at Fortress Oyonnax. The home side is lying in the depths of the Championship and struggling for points trying desperately to avoid relegation back into the Pro D 2, so they were prepared for the arrival of Montpellier. The weather there was only one word to describe it, abysmal!!! Firstly there was hail then a massive snow storm which eventually turned into pouring rain, so when you leave the sunshine on the Montpellieran coast this was not needed, some of our Southern Hemisphere players wondered exactly where they were, this is the end of March sun not snow!!!
 
Fabien Galthie had certainly done his homework for this game and knew exactly what to expect, a game that was going to be rugged up front, very aggressive and nothing given by the home side, rarely is he wrong but he has fielded a very strong team to combat the Oyonnax forwards with a bench know for its power plays late on in the second half, the bench included Mamuka Gorgodze, Sitaleki Timani, Jim Hamilton and Thomas Bianchin more than enough for a game of this nature.
As expected the game was all about the forwards, but in these atrocious conditions, nothing was going to be easy, behind the scrum and Jonathon Pelissie, there was a certain Francois Trinh-Duc, who was once again going to show who was the best No.10 in France, he certainly did just that, they say he can’t kick but after 4 penalties a drop goal (now leading drop goal specialist in this season TOP 14) and one try conversion  a total of 17 points he once again proved his weight in gold. From the start he conducted the orchestra like a maestro, he kicking from hand practically faultless, and his defence was energetic to say the very least, but he was not on his own, the whole team played as a unit and defended with guts and heart, nothing was going to get passed this Montpellier team who knew if they won this game it would be a massive leap forward towards the end of season play-offs and a possible minimum 4th place. This was a match which will never go down as the best ever played, but as far as trench war fare it was as good as it gets, the spirit which Montpellier played with was excellent, everyone working for each other and never giving in. Oyonnax threw everything bar the kitchen sink at Montpellier but they absorbed it all and even tried throwing the ball about but that was nearly impossible with the conditions. 
 
The first half provided just 2 penalties by FTD, but under the circumstances this was just reward for the first 40 mins played in nearly blinding snow, when the break came both sets of players looked like they need coffee cognacs to revive them, but Montpellier  had a lead of 0-6.
 
The second half there was less snow but more rain which did not help matters for both teams, the rest was much the same as the first 40 mins a hard fought battle upfront with no yardage given by the visitors, FTD, managed another drop goal (7th of the season) and two more penalties 3-15 they even managed a try by the Flying Fijian Jimmy Nagusa, the ball came out of a ruck, two of the Oyonnax defenders catapulted into each other, Alex Tulou broke from the ruck, made good ground  and a perfect pass to which  Jimmy who had turned nearly blue with the cold, but he put the engine into fast forward and waltzed around the remaining Oyonnax defender to score  a great try which  more or less wrapped up the game for Montpellier, FTD added the extras and the score moved on to 3-22 to the visitors with only 12 mins left on the clock. Tian managed a late score for Oyonnax but it was never enough and they were a team well beaten, final score 8-22 to Montpellier, who are now tied in 2nd place on 61pts with Toulon only 3 pts behind first place Clermont. 
 
Hopefully President Altrad will have his wishes granted, and a minimum of one of the Top 4 places for Montpellier, but if they carry on in this vein, they could finish in the top 2 but that will not be easy but still possible. Credits must go to the forwards for their never die attitude and the energy they used, rucks, mauls and scrums they fought every battle, the backs  also did their fair share of defending and attacked well when they could, but the conditions did not help them. The coaches excelled themselves in their preparation of this match in the best possible way, Fabien Galthie did not miss a trick, meticulous is the word that comes to mind, and the bench  provided that extra kick of power that was needed at exactly the right time, late on in the game. Team Capt FTD. was the Man of the Match, if PSA had his tele on, he now knows exactly what the French team needs, Francois Trinh-Duc did himself proud and showed how and why, the next time LES BLEUS turn out he could well be wearing his No10 shirt..
 
Next Sat 29 March KO. 18.30 Montpellier are at home to Bayonne another team struggling for points to avoid relegation, these game are all important and every point counts, so hard work will be the agenda  this week in training, and hopefully another victory next Sat..
 
Steve Whittell.