MONTPELLIER SEES RED !!!
Lundi 18 Août 2014
Here we go, the new TOP 14 season is up and away, the first game for Montpellier was a home fixture against Racing Metro, Canal +’s Saturday evening Gala match... All the ingredients were present, excellent weather two great teams and a holiday crowd of 12,827 which is near capacity. Both teams have strengthened their squads during the close season and the team sheet was a who’s who of International rugby stars.
The first 10 mins was a torrid affair with both teams going at each other with everything bar the kitchen sink, the aggression was there for all to see, and this was going to be a game difficult for the man in the middle. Racing were definitely there to spoil and get right into the faces of the Montpellier players, but the rugby was also present and both teams were trying to give their supporters excellent value for money. First score went to Racing a slick move in the centre and Dumoulin slid past a couple of defenders to score under the posts, Sexton added the extras and Racing were 7-0 to the good. Francois Trinh-Duc knocked over a penalty, but his boot was not on super form he missed two in the first half, one against the upright. Throughout the first half Racing were trying to provoke the home side at every occasion and were constantly offside, also stopping the release of the ball at the rucks and mauls, Mon Attalah, missed many of these infringements and it looked like we were back in previous seasons with a refereeing that was not of the soundest, he did however give Charteris a yellow after repeated faults by Racing, but Montpellier could not create an advantage while Racing were down to 14 players. There were several bouts of handbags throughout the first half and just on half time Charles Geli threw a couple of wild hooks, the Ref demanded the video and the red card came out of the pocket and Montpellier were down to 14 for all the second half, already behind 7-3 this was not going to help Montpellier’s situation. The ref blew for half time but had to separate all the players before they could go for the break, tempers were getting very close to meltdown.
The second half started, and twice in quick succession the Cists came close to scoring, Rene Ranger held up just short, and then Jimmy Nagusa got the ball down but after repeated video calls he had just grazed the touch line and Montpellier were denied the score, FTD managed a penalty after the umpteenth fault by Racing, he quickly added another and for the first time in the match Montpellier had their noses in front, 9-7, this however was short lived as Goosen smashed a massive drop goal from his own half, after the ref reviewed the video he gave the score to Racing, and they were back in front 10-9. Playing with only 14 on the park Montpellier were the better team and they attacked relentlessly, but a knock on or wayward pass stopped them in their tracks, FTD missed a couple of penalties then Paillaugue who had only been on the park for minutes replacing Jonathon Pelissie, missed a difficulty chance, this was not going Montpellier’s way with the boot tonight. Minutes later led by a FTD who attacked the line at every opportunity, he made the break aided by Rene Ranger then Jimmy Nagusa who finished over the line for Montpellier first try of the new season this was converted by Benoit Paillaugue, 16-13 to Montpellier. Ever Montpellier support present started praying for the last 6 minutes, but a Rene Ranger infringement at the tackle gave Sexton another easy chance to level the score 16-16.
In the dying minute Racing got themselves another penalty after a collapsed scrum by Montpellier and in front of the posts Sexton does not miss, the final nail was hammered into the coffin, the game went to Racing 16-19, all the effort that the home side produced during the second half gave them just one very small defensive bonus point, but 1 point is better than nothing. All in all there were 5 line outs lost a multitude of knock ons, precision had gone walkabouts for Montpellier’s first game of the season, everyone knows if you are to be successful all home games must be won, this one was not, so a very delicate and complicated start to the season for Montpellier. On the positive side the two wingers Rene Ranger and Jimmy Nagusa produced some great play, centre Robert Ebersohn and FTD tried everything in the book to win this game but the pack did not boss the game as they should have done and we need more aggression at the break down and losing valuble ball when it should have been secured does not help, and without that piece of leather you are always chasing and with only 14 on the park ,chasing a game will never be easy an task.
Next Saturday Montpellier are at home again to Grenoble who showed plenty of spirit getting the defensive bonus point away at Clermont so another extremely tough match in prospect for Montpellier, and this week coach Fabien Galthie will be working the boys hard to turn this first defeat into hopefully a winning second home game, there is no more room for error at home if this is going to be another successful season..