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Le 15 octobre 2012


Last night saw the last of the first round pool games for this seasons H Cup, Montpellier were visitors to Stade Mayol where they were taking on current TOP 14 leaders Toulon, at 16.30 a mini tornado hit Marseille just down the road so conditions were not good for playing rugby but Montpellier had won their last two matches in pouring rain so that was a good omen. Montpellier had rested a few of its major players including Francois Trinh-Duc, Alex Tulou, Thibault Privat and Club Captain Fulgence Ouedraogo this giving the chance for some of the younger talents to show their qualities both Illian Perraux and Yoan Artru making their H Cup debuts along side new signing Jonnie Beattie.
Montpellier started the match well but every time they had possession the Toulon defence curtain was firmly closed and the visitors found it very difficult to make any head roads into the Toulon 22, when they did the breakdown was their down fall, either losing the ball from hand, or the villain Steffon Armitage was all hands and legs getting the ball off the opposition. The Montpellier defence was broken twice in the first half by the excellent flanker Gunther and then Bakies Botha getting his very first H Cup try for the home side, and with Sir Jonnie knocking over 2 penalties and a conversion to a single penalty from Perraux the half time score was 18-3.
The second half saw more power and aggression from Toulon; their pack began to get the better of the visitors’ front five giving Toulon much more possession to run the ball at Montpellier. The defence was working overtime and could not keep up to the pace that Toulon was exerting. Twice Delon Armitage went over, and Bastareaud finally put any chances of Montpellier’s to bed with the 5th and final try for the home side. Mamuka Gorgodze and Remy Martin got a standing ovation “Toulon style” as they exchanged places in the second half but the Mighty Mamuka had the last laugh getting himself on the score board with an individual effort from the ruck, gathering the ball and powering over to save dignity and honour for Montpellier Benoit Paillaugue added the extras. Final score Toulon 37 Montpellier 16.
Toulon are this year a very good team well marshalled by coach Bernard Laporte and they could go a long way in both the TOP14 and the H Cup, and there will not be many sides taking points away from the Stade Mayol this season, Montpellier still have to play them twice again, once in the TOP14 at Mayol and the return H Cup fixture in Jan at Yves du Manoir, not an easy task!!! Montpellier however has to work on the line outs, rucks, where too many penalties were given away, and there was some shabby defending at times, but with a home match next Sunday KO. 16.00 against Les Rosbifs de Sale they can make amends and get back into winning ways.
Steve Whittell.