Montpellier alive and kicking ! Act 2

Le 18 décembre 2017

After last weeks away victory against Glasgow Warriors in Scotland 22-29, Montpellier were to play the very same but this time at home to the Warriors. The Scots have no chance whatsoever of qualifying so a situation where they have nothing to loose and all to gain, renowned for their fast open rugby. Montpellier will have to be on their guard as the Warriors will throw everything they possibly can at the hosts this cold and sunny Saturday afternoon.

The game was less than 2 minutes old and the Warriors had opened their scoreboard, a charge down by Fraser Brown from a clearance kick by Jesse Mogg and the very same dived over for the first points of the game; the extras were added by Horne 0-7 to the Warriors. The game was being played at break neck speeds and if this pace was to last for 80mins. the guys would be Christmas Crackered by the final whistle. Montpellier replied quickly with Nemsie Nadolo going over from close range after good work from the pack, Benoit Paillaugue added the extras and the scores were level 7-7. Crazy rugby, the Warriors were back on the attack and after Steyn lost the ball in the tackle by the powerful Smith he slipped a pass to Horne unmarked and over he went, he added the extras himself and the Warriors were back in front 7-14. The pace of the game was incredible, and there was plenty of chances, more for Glasgow and only some last ditch tackling kept them from scoring more tries. The Montpellier defence was a little raggedy in the middle, missing some vital tackles, and always a bad omen when Coach Vern Cotter left the press stand after only 20 minutes to regain the touch line :  things were not going to plan.

Although the Warriors were commanding the game Montpellier drew level with a rolling maul finished off by Romain Ruffenach who finally got the pigskin over the try line and Benoit Paillaugue converted 14-14. This game was going one way then the other as Glasgow attacked with some very classy play by their backs Horne administered the perfect kick pass for Jones who beat Mogg on the inside, slipped the ball to Price who gave Grigg the try line as a Christmas present and over he went. The extras were missed 14-19 and only 20mins. gone in this super fast Euro Champions clash. For reasons unknown, Montpellier in the first 20 mins. had already missed around a dozen tackles, and with Glasgow known for their attacking spirit the doors needed to be firmly shut or the home team could be in big trouble by the end of the game. The second quarter of the game both teams came close on numerous occasions but the scores stayed as they were when the Ref a certain JP Doyle blew for half time. Half time score Montpellier 14 Glasgow 19.

The second half started in Ferrari speed, Glasgow came close then it was Montpellier’s turn Louis Picamoles made good ground gave Nadolo the perfect pass and away went the mighty Fijian, Paillaugue collected and he gave Henri Immelman the run in behind the sticks, the young South African had only been on the pitch 4 mins. replacing Serfontein who did not have a great first half for his relatively new team. Benoit Paillaugue added the extras and Montpellier had their noses in front for the first time in the game 21-19. From the restart Glasgow gathered but the clearance kick was charged down by Van Rensburg,  Paillaugue got his hands on the ball and over he went 2 tries in 2 minutes. The very same missed the conversion and the score progressed to 26-19. The game continued at high speed and of course there were some faults, but both teams were giving the supporters their monies worth and this was probably a very pleasant armchair game for those who did not want to brave the cold.

Henry Immelman got his 2nd try of the game Nadolo made plenty of ground down his wing passed to Aaron Cruden who gave Immelman the easy run in and Benoit added the extras 33-19. Glasgow got a try back from George Horne the younger brother, which Russel converted 33-26, the final nail was a penalty from Benoît Paillaugue taking the score to 36-26 and the ref blew for the end of the game where there was a mass collection of handbags from most of the players on the park, the result, a yellow for Bismark du Plessis and Jackson who seemed to be the instigators of the general punch up.

Five good points for Montpellier and they move onto 13pts in group 3 there is still chance of a second qualifying place but they now have Exeter away and Leinster at home in the last 2 pool games to be played in January, 2 very tough games which must be won if Montpellier want to continue into the quarter final playoffs of this elite Champions Cup competition. Man of the match was Nemsie Nadolo and after the game the microphone was given to Kelian Galletier who had just secured his 100th game for his club Montpellier and a new 3 year contact, this 2 5years ldo. has a very bright future with his club and who knows in 8 or 9 years he could be holding the record number of club performances in Euro and Top 14 games.

Next Saturday 23rd Dec KO. 18.00 Montpellier is host to Lyon a top of the table clash which with a victory could see Montpellier back in No.1 spot on top of the TOP 14 that would be an excellent Christmas present for all at the club.

Steve Whittell.