WHO WINS QUALIFIES

Le 21 janvier 2019

A pool  final between Edinburgh the hosts, and Montpellier the challengers to see who finishes top of pool 5 and qualifies for the quarter finals of this season's  Champions Cup, a record crowd of  11,802 was present to see hopefully a great game between 2 very good teams. The game was started by JP Doyle tonight’s man in the middle and for the first 20 minuts both teams tested each other, but it was Edinburgh who came out leaders with 2 penalties from their No 10 J Van de Merwe, he kept calm under pressure to give the hosts 6 - 0. Both teams were defending really well and the try lines were kept virgin, both came close but last minut tackles had the try lines clean and tidy.  Montpellier were riding the storm and several times got themselves within range of the first try of the game but the knock ons passes astray did not help the situation and the home team survived several onslaughts. Edinburgh got themselves another penalty in the the 33rd minut which J van de Merwe knocked over to give the hosts a solid 9 - 0 lead, Montpellier were far from down and out and just before the break they hammered the Edinburgh try line, finally Jaques du Plessis went over helped by the rest of the pack for the first try of the game, Ruan Pienaar added the extras and at the break the score was 9 - 7 but everything to play for, just 40 minuts to see who will go through to the play- offs.

The second half got under way with everything to play for and Montpellier got themselves a penalty, touch was found and then a second penalty for offside from the following line out, the referee signalled the posts and Pienaar duly kicked the 3 points for the first time in the game Montpellier had their noses in front 9- 10. Although the match was not a classic it was hard fought but with so much at stake both teams played cautiously and fast running rugby was not the most important issue of the game. Edinburgh sneaked a lead after Montpellier again came foul of the man in the middle and up stepped J van de Merwe to add his 4th penalty to give the hosts a very slender 12- 10 lead. Montpellier were not having their best of days, balls lost in the rucks and mauls a scrum noted for its power going backwards and of course the ref raising his arm for another penalty of many against Montpellier. The 50th minut and Edinburgh started to pressurise the visitors and finally after hammering the Montppellier try line the ball came out of the ruck and one pass was enough Darcy Graham dived over the extras were added and Edinburgh had a 19- 10 lead. Montpellier now needed to bet back into this game but every time they got close the frequent mistakes came back to haunt them, penalties, knock-ons, and the rest started the nightmares for the visitors, on the other hand Edinburgh gained confidence and kept control of the game till the final penalty which was knocked high into the stands and the ref decided that was that and the crowd roared for the home sides success 19 - 10. Another season and Montpelier paid the price of some very average Champions Cup rugby, so all will have to wait till next season, but before that they still have to get  back into that Top 6 which at the moment they are not !!!

Everything is not rosy at the moment in Montpellier, but some hard work and discipline could help their present day plight  towards better conditions, that is if they make the efforts to get the ship righted  and sailing on the right route, the magic top 6 status will become a reality but it will not be easy and greater efforts will have to be made..

Steve Whittell