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MONTPELLIER BECOMES N°53

Lundi 07 Janvier 2013

 

Yes that’s right 53 consecutive victories at home by Clermont at their invincible stadium Marcel Michelin, the modern French record is 59 and that is held by Stade Francais under the direction of  Nick Mallet and a certain Fabien Galthie from 2004/2008 who was hoping to break the run of Clermont on Saturday afternoon.
 
In front of a full house of 17,621 on a cold but pleasant afternoon Montpellier had come to Clermont to try and do the impossible so many thought, beat Clermont on their home soil. An incredible start to the game saw the visitors on the score board after only 2 minutes of play, after Artru caught a Francois Trinh-Duc chip kick he was held just short the forwards intervened and the prop Max Bustos was finally  pushed over the line by his pack for the first points of the afternoon, MBM added the extras. Clermont quickly replied with the first of many penalties converted by Parra, a superb try followed for the hosts, a double dummy run from the centres Stanley and Fofana leaving the defence wrong footed and the later taking the ball with no opposition  in sight under the posts he went and another 7 points, thank you very much. Clermont 10  Montpellier 7. MBM kicked another penalty for Montpellier but a piece of pure genius by Fofana sidestepping and weaving past defenders, he finally served BUTTIN on a platter to score and of course Parra did not miss the extras, Clermont were beginning to apply pressure. Montpellier were playing well and defending with all their might as the onslaught of Clermont was non stop, another penalty apiece and the teams went to the break 20-13 in favour of the home side but the conversion and 2 penalty misses by MBM. could prove very costly. 
 
The second half saw Clermont become more and more aggressive, and nothing was rosy for the visitors, Alex Bias dropped the ball over the line while Clermont were only 14 on the park after a yellow card, and the traffic was slowly becoming all Clermont, penalties galore as Montpellier infringed on countless occasions, then a series of scrums in front of the posts and finally a yellow for Geli gave Montpelier little or no chance of holding the Clermont pack and the ref had no choice but to go under the sticks to award the penalty try for the hosts, needless to say Parra added the extras. Three tries to one and Clermont could see the bonus point not far away as there was at least 9 mins. left on the clock. Montpellier defended with all they had left in the tank and when they were awarded  a scrum near the half way line, Capt. Fu fu and Benoit Paillaugue shared a couple of passes then a chip kick for the Little Big Man to go over into the hallowed ground and deny Clermont any chance of the 5th point. Final score, Clermont 36 Montpellier 18.
 
Too many mistakes umpteen penalties given away and chances not seized, that was Montpellier’s deficit, but there was plenty of positives the whole team played for each other and the defence was excellent for most of the game and as coach Mario Ledesma said before the game “chances are far and few against Clermont you take your chance you may win you don’t you loose, nobody comes to Clermont for a free ride that’s why they have now 53 consecutive home victories under their belts”. 19 points from the boot of a very on form Parra did not help Montpellier’s situation.
 
There is now a break in the TOP 14 for a couple of weeks as the H Cup returns  with firstly an away game in the UK against Premiership team Sale Sharks , and the following week the massive task of Toulon at home for the final pool game of this season’s competition. Montpellier still has chances to qualify for the H Cup ¼ finals or at least an away Amlin Challenge ¼ final, but both games have to be won, a big ask!!!
 
Steve Whittell.