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Le 25 octobre 2021

Still no away wins for Montpellier in this toughest of TOP 14 Championship’s, and this weekend the task is even harder a visit to Racing in the Capital is never an easy affair, Montpellier have not had a victory since around 2018 which is beginning to count both physically and mentally, but that can all change if they mange to outscore Racing, then victory is theirs.

A special honour to go to our longstanding Georgian prop, Misha Narashvili who was coming onto the park for his 200th cap for his club Montpellier, he has never shirked his duties and always given 100% whatever the situation, hopefully he will be presented with something special for this amazing honour. BRAVO MISHA…..

Back to the game, Racing are a very complete team with absolutely no weakness anywhere, Montpellier on the other hand have an infirmary full to bursting with a massive amount of injuries, 19 players in all are unavailable through injury, still the team picked by PSA, did not look to shabby, but the task this Sat afternoon was massive for Montpellier.

Montpellier attacked Racing from the off and only 5mins. on the clock, from short range after some superb work from the pack Cobus Reinach dived over for the first try of the game with Paolo Garbisi adding the extras Montpellier were 0-7 to the good. Montpellier were giving Racing a rough time they were tireless in defence and the forwards pounded their opposition every time they had ball in hand, and Garbisi added a first penalty to take the lead to 0-10.

Sure enough Racing were not going to lye down and die, they attacked the visitors try line and with the majority of defenders around the mauls the Racing winger was unmarked, a clever cross kick from Gilbert and Spring only had to collect the ball as he was moreorless already over the try line, he did this with ease and Racing had their first try, the conversion was added from the touchline and Racing were back in the game 7-10.

Racing scored their second try a mistake by Anthony Bouthier in defence and Gilbert throws a long pass out to Imhoff who again went over into the hallowed ground with ease, Gilbert added the extras and this all of a sudden was a different ball game, 14 - 10 to the hosts. With one of the best defences in the Championship Racing were going to make Montpellier’s task even harder now they had their noses in front. To the advantage of Montpellier the opposition was making some terrible choices and errors which the man in the middle punished Racing with several penalties all in range for Paolo Garbisi who slotted 2 in a row to give Montpellier another 6 points. and Handre Pollard in front of his South African team mates slotted a monster penalty from over 50 minuts. 14 - 19 lead just before the end of the first 40 minuts.

On the stroke of half time Racing have a scrum 20 minuts from the Montpellier try line, Tanga shot of with the ball from the N° 8 post, only to have the ball stolen by Cobus Reinach, who accelerated like a Usain Bolt of old, he left everyone in his wake as he outran all to go under the sticks unopposed, pure magic and on the stroke of half time Paolo Garbisi added the extras and Montpellier went to the break 14 - 26 to the good.

The second half got underway and the game was exciting to watch with both teams throwing the ball about, but everything that Racing threw at Montpellier their defence was strong and efficient keeping everything clean and tidy, Garbisi added another penalty to add to the score 14 - 29 and this could be Montpellier’s day!!

Racing had a try disallowed but mins. later they were given a very soft penalty try followed by a yellow for Paul Willemse, very harsh, but they did need some help from somewhere as Montpellier’s defence was like a brick wall and nobody was going to get through it,  21 - 29 with this pre festive gift.

Montpellier had an 8pts lead with still 20mins left on the clock and down to 14 with the yellow card, surely Racing were going to throw everything at the boys, could they hold out for this first away win of the season ? They had to tackle like demons but they did just that and with Paolo Garbisi added another penalty giving him a 7 out 7 attempts and the final score of 32 - 21, no bonus for Racing and 4 very precious points. for Montpellier, a game where defence’s wins games plus a very outstanding performance from Cobus Reinach both tries and also a mention for Paolo Garbisi who kicked 100% this afternoon. The forwards had to be applauded for their work rate in defence they never shirked anywhere on the park and they were helped by the backs who did their duties well, all in all a very good day out in Paris for the boys. Nice pressie for Misha, victory on his 200th game for the club that is the best gift the club could give him. Even the staff were hugging, which is always good to see as they all played their part in this superb away victory

Next Saturday the boys are at home to Lyon KO. 17h00, a victory here could sent them into that top 6th position, but it will not be easy, but we all know that now, no easy games in the TOP 14.

Steve Whittell.