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LAST SECOND WIN FOR MONTPELLIER

Lundi 25 Août 2014
LAST SECOND WIN FOR MONTPELLIER
 
Montpellier was hosts to Grenoble FC this Saturday evening ko. 18.30, the weather was fine but a strong wind was howling around the stadium which could make it very difficult for the kickers. Last weeks defeat to Racing and one very small but important point, meant that the home side had to win tonight to start their season off in a positive manner; however Grenoble who gained a defensive bonus point in their loss to Clermont and were coming here to try and go one better this week.
 
The first half did not live up to expectations and the rugby was not of a very high calibre, both sides making some awful mistakes and the only scores came from the boot of Benoit Paillaugue who slotted over 3 penalty kicks. Both sides seem to be testing each other and there were no real cut chances, this was probably due to the amount of knock ons and forward passes that were distributed by both teams, at the break for lemons Montpellier went in 9-0 and everyone present was hoping for a resurrection in the second half.
 
The magic potion which is normally given to Montpellier at half time must have been sent to the wrong Changing rooms as it was Grenoble who came out stronger at the start of the second half. They were throwing the ball about and several times looked very dangerous out wide, with Aplon and Ratini coming very close to scoring, but the Montpellier defence did hold firm although there were some very scary moments.
 
Wisniewski started the scoring for Grenoble with a penalty in the 53rd minute after some good forward domination which caught the Montpellier backs offside, the Grenoble backs used the ball intelligently and after being held up just short of the line the big boys upfront took over and Buckle who had just come of the bench took a quick tap penalty and crashed over with all his forwards behind him in support, Wisniewski added the extras and Grenoble got there noses in front by one little point 9-10.
 
Grenoble were now on fire and their confidence booming, another quick and slick move by the backs had Montpellier floundering and Aplon did the business going over in the corner, again Wisniewski added the extras 9-17 to the visitors. Montpellier deep in trouble had to up their game or a second defeat at home was looming on the horizon.
 
The Montpellier forwards took the game to their counterparts, a couple of times they came very close to scoring but gained a penalty which gave Pelissie  the chance to narrow the gap to just to just 5 points this he did, 12-17. After another magnificent effort by the forwards they obtained a 5 mts. scrum, a massive shove and Alex Tulou held the ball at his feet while the  rest in front of him progressed forward, the line was in sight and he collected and dived over, scores equal!!!
 
The transformation was missed by Pelissie 17-17 and 5 minutes to play, Grenoble still tried to seek the win and were awarded a penalty 40 mts out well within range for Wisiewski, but maybe nerves got to him or was it end of match fatigue, his attempt landed just short, Benjy Fall attacked and Montpellier made progress up the park, ball in hand, the boys upfront took over and mauled the ball nearer to the line, looking for an infringement or a drop goal, God was with Montpellier and with seconds to go the ref blew for that penalty, seconds later, the siren sounded for the end of the game.
 
The ball in the hands of Pelissie was he to be hero or villain; he had missed the try conversion from exactly the same spot, talk about pressure!!!! He calmly stroked the ball over the bar and Montpellier were declared winners by a very meagre 3 points but winning ugly with a certain amount of luck still counts. A match only likely to be remembered for the win and that certainly Lady Luck was dressed in blue with Altrad marked across her chest.
 
There were moments of good play but top gear is still a long way away, hard work, less mistakes will have to be worked on this week, and an attack that was more than sterile which is not usually the case for Montpellier, but the backs can thank the forwards for a massive display under severe pressure especially in the dying minutes the line outs were clean and the scrum moved only in one direction, forward!!! 
 
Next week Montpellier are away to Clermont a Canal + Friday evening Gala match ko 20.45, there is no more room for mistakes, especially in the Volcanoes of Auvergne, where the reception is always superb but as they say in France the Auvergnats give nothing away so victory or even a bonus point will have to be earned with skill and courage we have used all our get out of jail free cards already for this season.
 
Steve Whittell.