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Mayol denies Montpellier any Christmas Cheer.

Le 23 décembre 2013
Montpellier sitting on a miserable 4 straight defeats had the ominous task of going to the Stade Mayol  5 days before Christmas and taking on the mighty European H Cup Champions Toulon, if Christmas cheer was what Montpellier were looking for they were not going to find it in Toulon. Weather wise everything was excellent, dry sunny and little wind, everything needed to produce fast running rugby and in front of nearly full house of 14, 404 all was set for some  excellent pre Christmas entertainment. Fabien Galthie pre match interview quoted “all is well at Mayol up to the Pilou Pilou,” he must have had a vision, as the famous pre match chant had microphone problems and only was good after the 3rd attempt.
Montpellier showed good spirit for the first 30mins attacking Toulon and putting them under enormous pressure but to no avail, Bakies Botha and Mamuka Gorgodze renewed their festive love for each other at moreorless every ruck and maul, and at one time were seen on the deck slapping each other in abundance, some new form of Christmas Cheer or Sud Aff / Georgian appreciation society, no doubt membership only available to massive rugby forwards known for their hard man tactics!!! Toulon have this capability to throw the ball about, stay on their feet, and attack the opposition at every foreseeable angle, after 33mins this happened, 2 tries from David Smith in quick succession either side of half time which was added to 3 Wilco penalties and another effort from Matt Giteau with only 50 minutes gone Toulon 26-3 to the good. Montpellier managed a consolation try by Mamuka Gorgodze in the 52 min. by far the best Montpellier player on the park, he will be sadly missed next season, and as far as hard men duo’s go Bakies and Mamuka could become some sort or Tag Team Formidable to be feared throughout France and Europe, heaven forbid. Further tries were scored by Orioli, Armitage and Drew Mitchell who got himself onto another long miss pass by Francois Trinh-Duc taking the interception with relative ease and strolling under the sticks, stark reminder of the opening match of the season at the Stadium Yves de Manoir, when it was the turn of Mermoz to do exactly the same, and they say history does not repeat itself!!! This was a classy performance by Toulon collecting the maximum 5 points, Montpellier looked very shabby and individual, nothing resembling a team performance, the team that ran Clermont and Toulouse ragged earlier in the season was nowhere to be seen, things have to change and change fast. We hear of various reasons and excuses why, but unless the results change, that is now 5 straight losses on the bounce, Montpellier are still in the top 6 but only just, and below them things are getting very hot, 5 teams within 4 points, the slide has now got to stop if end of season qualification is to be desired!!! When the ref blew for full time Toulon were 43-10 easy winners, a stroll in the park for the hosts and a miserable pre Christmas outing for Montpellier, the turkey could be served very cold for Montpellier and no sauce on the pudding, not Montpellier’s finest hour, they have 7 days to turn this around 3 of them off for Christmas, lets hope their families provide whatever Montpellier need to rediscover the buzz necessary, because at the moment they resemble lost sheep on a vast hill!!!
The  Canal + Boxing Day Bonanza on Sunday 29th Dec has Biarritz as the Christmas hosts of Montpellier, whatever happens between now and then, Montpellier have to wear some new thinking caps and get their heads into winning mode, no longer can they afford any slip-ups especially at home. Biarritz is propping up the TOP 14 at the moment with a miserable 17pts they are an injured beast and we all know that injured beasts have to be treated with due care and attention, but in the same breath they have to be run ragged and taken to the cleaners, 5 pts would be what is needed, but as in all sports, first the win, and only then, can any bonus points be considered. Here’s hoping, and for the next few days, a Very Merry Christmas to all, eat and drink well, but drive safely…….
Steve Whittell.