• ChroniqueChronique


Le 18 octobre 2021

This weekend Montpellier has the visit of Clermont, who at this moment are not playing how we all know Clermont can play. Jono Gibbes their new coach is still finding his feet but I’m sure that things will start to happen for them in due time.

Because of the importance of this game, Philippe Saint-André fielded a team which was as strong as he possibly could, as there are still a few players absent with long term injuries. Handre Pollard was on the bench if needed as the current n° 10 Paolo Garbisi was probably due some down time.

Although Clermont are below Montpellier in the Championship they are always dangerous and will have to be watched very carefully during the 80 minuts.

The weather was gloriously hot, cloudless, with a gently breeze so no excuses at all for some fast running rugby. Montpellier only had to wait 5 minuts before Paolo Garbisi slotted the first penalty for the boys 3-0 lets all hope they can build on this opening score. Clermont quickly fought  back Camille Lopez had ball in hand and with a little magic sent the defence clutching at straws, the gap opened he passed to Damian Penaud who did the rest and over he went for the first try of the game, Camille Lopez added the extras and Clermont were in front 3-7.

The game was very attractive to watch with both teams playing running rugby and there were some ferocious mauls when the forwards met to defend, there were errors from both teams and the ball changed hands quickly, Montpellier gained ground through their forwards and after a rolling maul the ball was thrown out to the wing where Julien Tisseron was unmarked, he caught and scampered over the line for Montpellier’s first try of the game, Paolo Garbisi missed he extras and the score moved onto 8-7

Again Montpellier took a slender lead; this was going to be a tight game with few points between the two teams. The game was being played in both halves of the park and some last ditch defending stopped further tries being scored. Paolo Garbisi added another penalty in the 31st min. to extend the lead to 11-7, but Clermont continued to be dangerous every time they had ball in hand. Damian Penaud got 10 minuts in bin after slapping down a bad interception attempt and Paolo Garbisi added another 3 points. to give Montpellier the tiniest of breathing spaces 14-7. In the dying mins. of the first half Montpellier were again penalised and Camille Lopez did his duty knocking over the 3 points, the ref blew for half time and the players went to the break with Montpellier having the smallest of leads 14-10.

The second half got underway and it continued in the same vein, both teams trying to attack and only good defending kept them from scoring, Montpellier received another penalty which Paolo Garbisi obliged

with another 3 points giving the boys again a 7 points. lead 17-10.

Both teams kept there error count going and they swapped penalties 3 for Clermont and one for Montpellier but Clermont were creeping very close to their hosts 20-19. There was a yellow card for Henry Thomas for multiple team infringements in the 72nd minuts. which meant Montpellier were down to 14 for the remainder of the game and with the scores so close, a strong vigil needed to be in place to prevent Clermont from scoring. This was not to be and Clermont were awarded another penalty and Camille Lopez did not shirk his duty knocking over what could be the winner, 20-22.

A final ruck on Clermont’s 40mts.line and their forwards were penalised for diving into the ruck, well in range for Handré Pollard as he had been knocking over penalties from all parts of the park for South Africa on his recent International duties. A last minute  victory was on the cards for Montpellier but Pollard was well short with his attempt and pure joy and bliss turned into tears and frustration, Clermont take the 4pts and Montpellier have at least the defending bonus point, not enough but one point is better than zero.

This game was lost on silly mistakes and some awful choices, and some desperate box kicking which just gave away a bucketful of possession, cut out these tedious mistakes and Montpellier would have won this game, rucks and mauls must be cleaner and without silly hands infringing when the ref is there to see all. Zac Mercer is playing very well but when he goes on his charges he must be supported by his forwards before he becomes isolated and loses the ball or is penalised, plenty to work on for Philippe Saint-André before the next game.

Next weeks game is away to Racing, who took for 4 points off Toulon today away from home so another very difficult game next Sat. but all is not lost, Montpellier are playing some good rugby.

Steve Whittell.