POWERHOUSE FORWARDS DOMINATE BIARRITZ
Jeudi 02 Janvier 2014
The French Boxing day festivities provided by Canal +, saw Montpellier lying 6th in the Top 14 and resting on 5 successive defeats, today they were the hosts to Biarritz who are in dire trouble and supporting the whole of the Championship as they are in 14th position with a mountain to climb if they are to survive relegation.
A cold but very pleasant afternoon was awaiting both teams in this 17.00 French Boxing day KO, and the supporters had made a terrific effort during the festive period 12,016 was the number present, they all wanted Montpellier to turn around this disastrous run of 5 defeats and bring some sort of festive cheer back into the Stade Yves du Manoir.
The match started with a couple of Benoit Paillaugue penalties to give the hosts an early lead, the forwards had decided that domination was the order of the day pushing the Biarritz pack around the park with relative ease, the aggression was back, the rolling mauls, a solid scrum, and a line out that was stealing opposition ball and winning their own, slowly but surely the winning ways looked good to return to a team in need of morale and confidence. The ref sent Ngwenya and Van Staden to the bin in quick succession after many early infringements from the visitors; this gave Montpellier the propulsion to gain the advantage.
The first try of the game went to the flying Fijian Jimmy Nagusa, after good work from the forwards the ball was thrown out quickly and Jimmy did the rest, The Little Big Man added the extras with the boot. Alex Tulou was next on the act, going over from close range, again excellent work from the pack, which was now running Biarritz ragged, less than 30mins.gone and Montpellier were 20-0 to the good. Yachvili got 3 pts back for BO from a penalty, then the massive Erik the Viking Lund went over also from close range after which the Yach. added the extras. Biarritz were back in the game but not for long, a penalty gave Montpellier a line out 5 mts from the hallowed ground the forward worked the ball well and Mamuka Gorgodze was over the line showing all that massive body strength that he is known for, again Benoit Paillaugue added the extras, half time and Montpellier went to the pause 27-10 to the good.
The second half was Montpellier showing dominance up front, this time Mickael Ivaldi had everyone behind him and he was propelled over the white line in a huge show of forward pressure cooker, again the Little Big Man added the 2 pts. Francois Trinh-Duc got himself a very severe yellow which gave Biarritz chance to get back in to the game, quick tries from Ngwenya and Baby brought BO to within 12pts of Montpellier 34-22, but more important the bonus point gained was looking dangerously absent. Montpellier have often been accused of mismanaging the full 80mins but not this time, further tries from Alex Tulou his second and then Mamuka Gorgodze got his second, giving that all important bonus point back where it belonged firmly in the pocket, the last try was transformed by Francois Trinh-Duc, the final score 48-22, obvious relief by all, the series of defeats so to become distant memory, a well worked and well deserved bonus point victory. The forwards are to heartily congratulated, they dominated throughout and never let BO into the game, the defence needs work as holes appeared very often in places they should not, the three quarters being the main culprits, but perfection is not often obtained, with hard work and complete understanding this should be eradicated quickly. Apart from the forwards being Man of the Match, 3 were outstanding, Ivaldi, Tulou, and Gorgodze led the pack with power aggression and intelligence, the Little Big Man had a 100% day, kicking a massive 16pts his distribution was excellent from the base of the scrum and Pierre Berard had a good game at fullback, Francois Trinnh-Duc kicked out of hand with precision and was always present in defence, although this still needs work.
Next week a tough match at Brive who are fighting a survival battle with the bottom half of the Championship, so points will have to be earned, in the Correze, nothing is given away, these are very rude and tough areas of France.
Interview with Paul Grant, Montpellier New Zealand Flanker.
Steve Whittell: Paul Grant your first game at the Yves du Manoir a great win with the bonus point!!
Paul Grant: The forwards really stepped up to the mark today and showed just how good they can be, we dominated throughout, and managed 5 of the 6 tries scored, always good for the big guys up front. It is always special when you have a home debut like this 6 tries and some great power play by the pack just what was needed.
Steve Whittell: There were questions at times about the Montpellier defence?
Paul Grant: They were very dangerous on the counter attack and did cause us quite a few problems, every opportunity they had, they attacked us with long miss passes, and when we were down to 14 we had to defend, but hard work will sort the defence out and we will no doubt be working on this during the coming week.
Steve Whittell: Although we lost the bonus point during the game, we did manage to get it back!!
Paul Grant: I think we managed the game well for most of the time, a couple of errors, but the last 20 mins. we worked hard upfront and got our rewards, 2 late tries and the bonus point regained which was great in front of this very vibrant and festive crowd. First home appearances do not come much better than this, but this week is back to some hard work as Brive away from home next Saturday will be a big mountain to climb, but if we use the same power and aggression that we showed today we could come away with a very great way to start the New Year.
Steve Whittell: Cheers Paul go join the rest of the boys for a special first lap of honour, you all deserve it and good luck for next Saturday against Brive.
Interview and resume by Steve Whittell.