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THE VOLCANOES OF CLERMONT FINALLY EXTINGUISHED

Lundi 01 Septembre 2014
     
 THE VOLCANOES OF CLERMONT FINALLY EXTINGUISHED 
 
Last season Montpellier went to Toulouse and claimed their scalp, that was a first for the club a moment in history, never had this feat been repeated at Clermont the land of the Volcanoes ONLY Castres had done this recently and broken the nearly 5 year spell of consecutive victories.
Montpellier was the hosts on another Friday evening Canal + Gala game with Clermont, the love affair continues.
 
The pundits were out in mass, predictions from a 5 pts .win for Clermont to a couple of insane unknowns who predicted a defensive bonus pt loss for Montpellier, (probably the reason why they were unknown); never in any doubt the majority said home win!!!
Montpellier had blooded their new recruits, Ben Mowen, Antoine Battut, and Tom Donnelly for their first selections and Chris King the Kiwi prop would be sitting patiently on the bench, hoping to get his first start, excellent weather for the evening and in front of a near capacity Clermont crowd who know and enjoy their rugby always a pleasure to be in their company.
 
Montpellier had been training hard all week and putting the emphasis on precision, timing and a defence where only intelligence, blood and guts would count, nothing was excluded by the master tactician Fabien Galthie, of course helped by his able assistants Glas and Ledesma.
The match was always going to be a torrid affair with attack against defence but who would crack the pressure was immense, but Fabien Galthie had his master card, by blooding the new recruits, they had no real ideas of the cauldron Marcel Michelin so they did not understand the word “Pressure”……yes of course Battut had been there before but never for Montpellier!!!
 
First blood to Montpellier with a Benoit Paillaugue penalty but this was quickly equalled by a similar Brock James attempt, 3-3.  Both kickers missed a couple of passable shots at goal but the intensity around the rucks and mauls were huge and bad blood spilled over on several occasions, Bardy was warned twice by Mon Poite “man and ball not just the man” was Poite’s reference to some illegal spoiling at the fringes of the ruck, eventual the card did come out and it was given to Abendanon for repeated infringements, 10 mins in the cooler for the newly signed ex Bath fullback. This was going to be a very tight affair, although Montpellier saw literally nothing of the ball they never shirked in defence if one player missed a tackle another was there to do the job, ,this was a team playing as a team 15 guys giving their all for the team mates, not an inch was given!!!
 
The end of the first half was insight and Montpellier still well in the game at 3-3 conceded a penalty, Brock James used his boot to find a 5mts touch for the hosts, the ball was caught and the Clermont forwards did he rest, they bundled Montpellier over their own line with Fritz Lee making sure the ball was well and truly grounded, first try of the game to Clermont, but James missed the conversion. In he dying minutes of the first half FTD added a penalty after Benoit Paillaugue had been half strangled by Parra and did not feel good enough, still a little groggy to take the penalty, the ref blew for the break the score 8-6 to Clermont.
 
The second half was much the same, very little ball for Montpellier, Clermont threw everything at the visitors but the defence was their supreme ally, never did they think of anything but placing their bodies on the line, blood and guts were spilled but this magnificent effort was slowly beginning to show its fruit. Every time Montpellier got near to the Clermont 22, FTD called received and bang a perfect drop goal between the sticks, twice in quick succession, plus another penalty, by the one they said can’t kick!!!!
 
 They talked about Sir Jonnie and his drops before he retired last season,, but soon this could be heard around the corridors of Buckingham Palace, “Rise Sir Francois” already last season he topped the charts with his drop goals and this season 2 in one match, Francois added another penalty 11-15 to Montpellier, their noses in front but only just, 20 minutes to go could Montpellier bring home the bacon???
 
Nico Mas got himself in the cooler for 10 mins and James hit the penalty over, then another, and another, all of a sudden Montpellier were behind 17-15 James again turned the screw 20-15, was this going to be a disastrous finish for Montpellier???
 Last 10 minutes Debaty caught infringing, and FTD hits Montpellier 3 pts. closer, Clermont lose the ball and a scrum is called 45mts out, Galthie screams double scrum, double scrum, (secondary push to try and earn the penalty) the forwards understood the message, and the ensuing double or secondary push had Clermont on their knees, Mon Poite raised his arm to the heavens penalty to Montpellier!!!
 
Francois Trinh-Duc stepped forward this was his show, he was the Chef D’orchestra, tee, ball preparation, with the clock on “PRESSURE” everybody thought yes, only Francois knew, the fate of Clermont was already sealed that ball was going over, and from about 45 mts out, the ball sailed high and straight 3 pts and Montpellier were in front 20-21, the rest is history!!!!!!!!!
 
Galthie was the first on the pitch, jumping around like a demented schoolboy, this was another first in the history of Montpellier, and “The Volcanoes of Clermont were finally extinguished.”
This victory was all about team spirit, combat, defence, especially defence, and the very fact that 23 guys played as a unit never ever saying “NO”, the forwards were magnificent the backs their equals and a certain FTD, who once again showed who will be wearing France’s No10 shirt come November!!!
 
The celebrations were going to go into the small hours of the following morning; they deserve everything that comes their way and just the tonic and confidence they need before next Friday’s visit of Castres!!! 
The Friday night love affair with Canal + continues, KO 20.45. next Friday evening, after the official Naming of the new L’ATRAD STADIUM……..
 
 
Steve Whittell……..