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Le 10 janvier 2011


 The talk of the town all week was that the pressure pot was simmering and slowly coming to the boil on this local derby Montpellier v USAP, the visitors who needed the points, their position at the moment a little precarious, Montpellier however still with the wind in their sails in 2nd position in the TOP 14 better placed, but they still needed to prove once again their merit at the top.
All records were broken this Saturday afternoon, the crowd a MAGNIFICENT 14,715 with an atmosphere second to none. The Catalans were there in mass and they could be heard but every time they got behind their heroes the supporters of Montpellier drowned them into nearly silence , never has the crowd reached the dizzy heights of this magnitude, today Montpellier and the Stade Yves du Manoir have a support and atmosphere to be proud of.
The match was an immense affair of blood and guts mainly played between the 2 giant packs who refused to move backwards, after only 2 minutes the Montpellier hooker Mickael Ladhuie had to rush off covered in blood and have several stitches before he could continue, the scene was quickly set, this was trench warfare at its very best.
The first half had Perpignan just in front 3-6, after Porical had slotted 2 penalties and Montpellier Martin Bustos-Moyano just the one, but very unlucky to hit the crossbar from long range. Perpignan attacked and were the better team with Montpellier probably spilling too much ball and a few silly errors crept into their game, but their defence was truly magnificent and nobody shirked their duties, with the back row of Matigo, Wasserman, and Capt. Ouedraogo, running around the park like demented lumberjacks felling anything and everything that moved with or without the ball!!!
The second half was much the same with both defences winning the day but Montpellier got themselves better organised and looked the better side, creating more chances than the visitors, but only penalties were on offer, this half the Montpellier gunner did an excellent job and missed nothing, finally bringing the score to a very equal 12-12.
The last 10 minutes were electric, with Montpellier the better side, wave after wave of pick and goes, rolling mauls of a quality which have not been seen for many a year, but every move was stopped by the stone wall defence of Perpignan and finally a penalty was given to USAP and the ball was cannoned high into the stand, they were happy with the 2 points.
There was nobody on that park who did not deserve congratulations an unbelievable game of grunt rugby by 2 great teams, a match which was certainly for the purists!!!
Benjy Thiery was supreme at fullback, never did he flinch under countless high balls, which in difficult conditions were always going to be a nightmare, the pack truly incredible never retreating and when the Perpignan no.8 Henry Tuilagi all 125kgs is steaming towards the Montpellier defence he needs some stopping, but stopped he was, never did he gain ground.
Montpellier today showed the rugby world that under difficult conditions they are a team that will qualify for the play offs, in which position we will have to wait and see, but they will be there.
It does take Two to Tango and all credit must be given to USAP. who also showed why they have been finalists and French Champions in the last 2 years, their present position in the TOP 14 is of no reference of their performance today.
Steve  Whittell.