MONTPELLIER OUTSHONE BY STADE FRANCAIS AND FIREWORKS DISPLAY
The last TOP 14 game of 2019 and the opponents were Stade Francais, lying 14th and bottom of this season’s Championship, of course this always looks on paper like a very easy 5 points but the player or coach who thinks that can very easily come unstuck, win the game then search for the bonus point in the last 20 minuts or so, the win is always the most important as it says in the book the extra point is just a bonus !!! The Montpellier team selection had youth on its side with the three-quarter all very young indeed, a great opportunity for these guys to take their chances and establish themselves into the starting XV.
The game started at break neck speed with first a Pollard penalty then a Arthur Vincent masterpiece, he broke the defensive line just over the 50 meters line and accelerated to the point where he left everyone in his dust, waltzed around the last 2 Stade players and under the sticks he went, he did have a little help from Gela Aprasidze and Handre Pollard who also added the extras and Montpellier were 10pts to the good. For reasons unknown to man or beast, Montpellier looked as though that’s it the match was won and all they needed to do was score tries for the bonus point, however Stade Francais thought just the opposite and started to play good rugby despite their early setback. They were the better team on the park and were rewarded with a try scored by Naivalu from 40 meters out, he was helped by Macalou and Fickou, Sanchez kicked an excellent touchline conversion to get the Parisien Roses back in the game 10-7. Next it was Fickou who added more points on the scoreboard, he broke a couple of very lame tackles to go over under the sticks and Sanchez added the extras to give Stade 14- 10 lead which was fully deserved. Only minutes to go to half time, a couple of rucks and mauls in favour of Paris and they then booted the pigskin into the stands for the break. Half time score Montpellier 10 Stade Francais 14. Words will definitely be spoken in the Montpellier changing room, as after the initial 10 minuts and 10 points scored, everything went to pieces, there was a definite lack of aggression, some sub standard ball in hand kicking, mainly going straight into the hands of the opposition giving them ample time to create new attacks, plus, which was probably even worse the 15 man game had began to look like 15 individuals who wanted to crowd please on any and every occasion without considering the other 14 team mates on the park.
The second half started and it did not get much better for Montpellier, Pollard managed a penalty to move the score to 13-14 that was quickly cancelled out by a Segonds penalty 13-17. There were long periods where Montpellier defended against a team brimming with confidence, thinking a 4 points victory was very possible, although Montpellier did make some attacking ground, every move finished with a dropped pass or forward pass, as the game progressed you could see the confidence flowing away from the Montpellier players. Macalou got himself 10 minuts in the bin after countless infringements from Stade, this could help Montpellier’s cause. Handre Pollard did get a try back for the hosts, a 5 meters penalty, he took the penalty quickly and bundled himself over the line, added the extras himself, 20-17 and a small ray of hope started to shine, with 10 minuts left on the clock Montpellier needed to close up shop and make sure discipline was perfect. It had to happen another trivial penalty 35 meters out and Segonds did not miss 20-20 with just 5 minuts. to play, Chilachava also got his yellow marching orders for another messy scrum and both teams were down to 14 with Macalou coming back on just a minut later so Montpellier had the inferior numbers. Montpellier had a couple of last minut penalties that came to nothing and the referee blew for full time as Montpellier once again spilled the ball forward, final score, Montpellier 20 Stade Francais 20.
This was not a good performance by Montpellier there was a lack of input from most on the park the XV man team was out of the window and some awful kicking, individual performances were very poor, and thinking that the lantern rouge (bottom of the Championship) were going to roll over and die was a massive error on the part of the home players. Hopefully lessons will be learned from this very lack lusted performance and hard work will turn this around before next Sat. home fixture to Brive ko. 20.45. Brive will be looking at this result and thinking just maybe !!! They are well known for their ball up the jersey forward play so beware the warnings are there to see. The evening closed with the traditional end of year firework display presented by our President Mohed Altrad, this put back the smiles on the supporters faces, lets hope they are all present next week vs Brive to see an improved performance.