Devoured by the wolves of Lyon

Le 17 septembre 2018

Saturday’s game at Lyon saw Vern Cotter makes several changes including Louis Picamoles back in the team as Captain after his long lay-off due to summer surgery on his shoulder. Excellent news to see that the infirmary is slowly beginning to empty but it will still be a while before all who are injured are back on the park and ready for business.

The game against Lyon was played in glorious September weather with little wind and bright blue skies. The first half was a close affair  with Aaron Cruden opening the score for Montpellier with a penalty to give them a slender lead 0-3. Montpellier did have their moments in the first half but Lyon were taking the lions share of the attack, they came close of several occasions and finally touched down through Toby Arnold in the corner, Wisniewski added the extras and the score moved on to 7-3 to Lyon. Another penalty from Lyon minutes later made the score line 10-3. Montpellier did not give up fighting and Nico Van Rensburg went over with most of the forwards hanging on to him. Again Aaron Cruden added the extras and Montpellier were in this game 10-10. Ten minutes before half time, Nakaitaci went over after some very sloppy defending, the conversion was missed and as the ref blew for the break, Montpellier had every chance of winning this game with just a 5 pts deficit.

What happened in the second half was the complete destruction of a team that are still vice champions of the last season, whether there was some sort of sleeping potion in the half time drinks who knows? Lyon ran riot, more aggressive than in the first half they attacked Montpellier who just could not cope with the situation, tackles missed the defence line broken as though it was held together by some very weak cotton. The mauling was nowhere near good enough winning little ball, the heads went down, interest was lost and the performance was embarrassing and very shoddy.

Lyon moreorless scored whenever they wanted to. They ran in 6 more tries all converted bar one, by Wisniewski and Doussain, while Montpellier could add only one meagre second half penalty from Aaron Cruden. The try scorers for Lyon were, Couilloud, Regard, Oosthuizen, and Nagatai twice, a complete routing of the Montpellier defence which had just gone AWOL, schoolboy errors, missed tackles, very little looked like a pro rugby performance from a team that had contested a TOP 14 final only months before. Eventually the ref blew for full time with the score at 55-13 to the hosts; you have to go back a dozen or so years to find when Clermont did the same with a 55 pts. score board.

With the visit of Toulouse next Sunday still unbeaten this season, lets not hit the panic button just yet but there must be due concern over this performance, it did at times look as though Montpellier were just not interested!! Racing went to Toulon and won, then they got clobbered at home by Clermont, then Toulouse beat Racing this weekend, Montpellier still have to play these three teams twice with Toulouse the visitors next weekend, the team and squad have to pull their socks up as the start of this season is very mediocre and will not let our President enjoy his Sunday lunch after Saturdays dismal performance. This week it will be a menu of hard work, and more hard work and get some sort of discipline and aggression back into the squad before Sunday, because teams are going to think we are going to be an easy job with 4/5 pts whether it’s home or away.

Yes there are still lots of injuries, but the squad is big enough to cope with these situations, we still have the Champions Cup to start and if you are to play on both fronts everybody needs to be countered on,  stand up and be measured, these boys are all pro rugby players and this must be shown on and off the park, at the moment Montpellier are just going through the motions and that is just not good enough. We are now lying in a very uncomfortable 10th place which could be even worse after the Sunday games; if Toulon and La Rochelle win, we will be just hovering above the relegation positions in 12th.

Hoping to see something, very different next Sunday against Toulouse and I’m not on my own.


Steve Whittell.