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PURE RUGBY PURE MAGIC
Le 17 septembre 2012
A game that already earlier this week had got the journalists interest, Toulon leader in this season ‘s TOP 14 were coming to Montpellier with a squad of International stars from around the globe, but have been recently heavily criticised for their lack of adventurous play.
On a very pleasant Friday evening with a strong wind behind the backs of Toulon in the first half and a magnificent crowd of 14,280 Toulon set about completely routing Montpellier in the first half, the experts said their rugby was boring and unadventurous, perhaps we should not listen too often to the experts!!! The game was played at break neck speeds with Toulon showing everyone what running rugby was all about, time after time they bamboozled Montpellier with their different play strategies and only some magnificent defending kept them from scoring a bucket full of points, Fred Michalak was the inventor of most of Toulon’s genius and they did go into the break 16-0. A try started on their own line after Francois Trinh-Duc had wasted a chance to score for the home side, he kept the ball with men outside begging to score, only to loose it in the ensuing maul, the ball was stolen by Toulon and gathered by Michalak who pierced the home defence and served the contender for Man of the Match Gunther who ran down the wing to score Michalak added the extra and with another 3, 1st half penalties Toulon looked as though they already had the match sewn up after the first 40 mins.
What ever happened in the Montpellier changing room at half time certainly revitalised their ideas; they came out a different team and put Toulon under the cosh. Firstly Rassie Van Vuuren was pushed over by the Montpellier pack and minutes later the very same smashed into the base of the upright to score his second after great work by Mamuka Gorgodze who as usual gave his normal 120%. Toulon did hit back with another classy try from club Captain Van Niekerk, but Montpellier were not finished Tulou held in the tackle slipped the ball to Escande who out of the back of his hand gave Francois Trinh-Duc an easy crossing for a try under the sticks, the young Eric Escande who had replaced Benoit Paillaugue just before the try added the extras but Montpellier were still short by 3 points of the defensive bonus point, and only 3 minutes left on the clock. Montpellier were whistled a penalty and Escande tried to keep his cool, but hit the upright, the following home pack gathered the ball and started to batter the Toulon wall of defence but the defence held out, however illegally, and the Ref blew for a second penalty to give Montpellier the chance for that defensive bonus point that they so well deserved Escande this time made no mistakes and pumped the ball over, the ref blew for full time, the score Montpellier 25 Toulon 32.
Toulon deserved their victory and showed why they are unbeaten so far this season, Bernard Laporte has finally managed to gel together a squad of International stars that any team would be proud to have, 5 games played and 4 games away from home won, already a massive step towards that automatic 1st two qualifying places. Montpellier made far too many mistakes in the first half and were caught watching Toulon play, they also missed too many penalties at goal and chances to score tries were spoiled by unintelligent choices, at this level the mistakes have to be eradicated or the only points available will be the defensive bonus point which is not enough to land Montpellier in the Top 6 at the end of the season for the play offs. Montpellier showed that they can play to a very high level, today they were beaten by a stronger and better side, but heart must be taken from this defeat and turned into positives enabling Montpellier to go and retrieve lost points at Bordeaux-Begles next weekend.
Pitch side interview with Barry Faamausili.
Barry Faamausili, Samoan born prop 125kg and 1.82cms, arrived as temporary replacement for the injured prop Kevin Kervarec from Australia only this week and started his training with the first team squad on Tuesday morning, finding himself as No.23 on the bench on Friday evening against Toulon some introduction into the TOP 14.
SW: This has been a bit of a whirl wind week for you Barry, you were in Australia less than a week ago and you find yourself already on the bench tonight, then getting on the park for the last 30 mins. of the game
BF: Yes my feet have hardly touched the ground this week I did not realised that I would be so quickly thrown into the deep end, but that is not a problem its just I still need to learn the combinations and style of play but that will come during the next couple of weeks at training.
A great reception though by the rest of the boys, who have made me really welcome and I still don’t know all their names yet!!!
SW: Your first experience of TOP 14 rugby tonight coming off the bench in the second half, your thoughts?
BF: It was not easy but sometimes it’s better to be thrown straight into the deep end I still have a bit of jet lag left and feel really tired but that will not last long, but a fantastic experience for me and hope that there will be lots to follow I am sure that I can bring something to an already excellent team of players.
SW: Toulon was very efficient tonight and deserved the win but we did secure the defensive bonus point?
BF: Yes the bonus points play an extremely important part of the season especially towards the end when everything counts, tonight after a bad start we managed to fight back and were not far off in the end you could see the hunger is there and there are lots of positives to take from this match although we did not win it. The pace of the game tonight was incredibly quick but hopefully I will get used to that.
SW: It’s early days yet but do you like what little you have seen and would you like to stay?
BF: Definitely there is a great atmosphere at the club and the boys are a fantastic bunch, without a doubt I shall be working hard to be 100% match fit and possibly hope to still be here at the end of the season, but that is up to me to show the coaches my very best, he’s hoping.
SW: Cheers Barry go and see if you like French beer!!!
Interview by Steve Whittell.
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