Mardi 31 Mai 2011
The only word to describe Montpellier’s performance in Saturdays semi final against Racing Metro, never have 23 players put their hearts and bodies on the line for a cause, the rugby that Montpellier have tried to play all season was once again highly apparent, fast, precise, and a defence that had every man tackling the opposition with absolutely no fear or thoughts of the consequences.
Stade Velodrome, filled to the rafters 56,855 and 95% supporting Montpellier, both teams from the other semi final Toulouse the winners and Clermont decided to give Montpellier a helping hand with their support, there is no pity in sport but one had to feel a little for Racing as their support was to say the least, a little sparse.
Racing having finished the season in 2nd place were automatic qualifiers for the semis and by a long head the favourites of all the pundits, expert or not. Montpellier however the little boys lost in the crowd, never had they performed at this level, no one gave them a chance they had done well to get this far but now the mighty experience and large cheque book of Racing would prevail so everybody thought. HOW WRONG COULD THEY BE!!!!
Long periods of the match Montpellier had to defend and defend they did with passion heart and soul but after a shaky start they got their hands on the ball and started to play the rugby that they love to play, fast, attacking, always a player at hand to support the man with the ball and eventually it paid off., with an excellent try by Sylvain Mirande after an enormous break by Aliki Fakate, who with his 135kgs smashed his way through the Racing defence to give a pass that any centre would have been proud of to Mirande, and he did the rest scampering under the sticks for the first try of the game. With penalties from both sides the half time score was 13-6 to Montpellier.
The second half started with a fine try by Santiago Fernandez after a incredible steal by fly half Francois Trinh-Duc, who picked the ball up from behind a Racing ruck, he managed to pass the ball in the tackle to Santiago who dived over into the corner of the promised land, the try was converted, and minutes later Martin Bustos-Moyano added another 3 points after Conje was caught handling the ball on the ground, 23-6 to Montpellier, was the dream starting to come true.
Racing started to play rugby and all of a sudden they were a major force once again, giving Montpellier no chances and keeping the ball to themselves, what followed was quite amazing in 23 minutes Racing scored 3 times through Bobo, Wisniewski and finally Qovu forcing his weight over the line from what looked like an easy passage into the final with their excellent lead, this was beginning to be Montpellier’s nightmare, the following day they could all be on holiday.
Racing leading by the smallest of margins, 25-23 and exactly5 minutes on the clock, from the restart Montpellier gathered the ball and hammered at the Racing defence, pick and go every player gained a yard or two getting themselves in a position for a drop or a penalty if the occasion arose, Racing crept inches offside the Ref Mon. Poite whistled penalty to Montpellier 79th minute!!!!
Nearly 50,000 Montpellier closed their eyes or started to pray, visions of Romain Tuelet in the previous match of Castres was entering into every bodies heads, a miss and Montpellier were down and out, the penalty 40yds out and a violent crosswind, would Martin Bustos –Moyano fail at the final hurdle, he caressed the ball with absolutely no effort and split the posts down the middle, the roar from the supporters was incredible, hang onto the ball from the restart and the final was Montpellier’s.
They did not and Racing gave their last ALL, the last play of the game the ball came out to no.10 Wisniewski the drop was on the cards he gave it his best shot but wide it went, the ball was gathered by Montpellier and it was sent out of play.
MONTPELLIER ARE IN THE FINAL, what happened next was enormous, after the usual sporting handshakes, Montpellier had a lap of honour to remember, and it was roared on by their supporters to, “ICI ICI C’EST MONTPELLIER”, and then “ON EST EN FINALE, ON EST EN FINALE”. The coaches Bechu, Galthie, and Bez huddled in the centre of the park in tears, the supporters either cried or cheered but it mattered not as…
MONTPELLIER v STADE TOULOUSE for the Final of the French Championship next Saturday evening in Paris Stade de France.
A match which goes into the history books for Montpellier, their first ever TOP 14 Championship Final. What a season, what a team, everybody on that park gave their all, heroes to the very last one, whatever happens next week is how dreams are created, can Montpellier beat the mighty Toulouse at the moment nothing is impossible for this bunch of youngsters watch this space!!!!!!!