Guilhem Guirado’s tears at the final whistle said a lot about Montpellier’s deliverance. Winner of the Union Bordeaux-Bègles (19-10), Saturday June 18 at the Allianz Riviera in Nice, Montpellier will have the right to revenge. The Héraultais will find Castres Olympique (winner of Toulouse) in the final of the Top 14, Friday June 24 at the Stade de France, four years after a first confrontation at this level of the competition concluded with a defeat of the MHR (29-13).
The @MHR_officiel wins and joins @CastresRugby in the final of #TOP14!! 🏆 #MHRUBB #HalfTOP14 https://t.co/H67jI5ZK5n
Since this unfortunate final, the MHR has lived through complicated times. On the brink of relegation for much of last season (eventually ended in the 10e place), he has just confirmed his return to the top of French rugby and is still aiming for his first title of champion of France.
“We never gave up”
“It’s pretty crazy because this group was fighting for the maintenance last year, reported Benoît Paillaugue at the microphone of Canal + after the final whistle. In sport, anything can happen quickly. We never gave up when it was complicated. We wanted to take everyone to Paris. Castres is very, very heavy. »
In a tough and sometimes technically poor match, very disrupted by numerous penalties, Montpellier showed impressive strength of character to bring down Union Bordeaux-Bègles, who will long regret their missed second part of the season. Above all, the men of owner and president Mohed Altrad have found a hero in the person of Gela Aprasidze.
Entered the game at the 67e minute, the 24-year-old Georgian managed two penalties in the last ten minutes. The second, over 50 meters, allowed his team to take shelter from a final Bordeaux try.
A very solid defense
But anyway, the Montpellier defense was heroic throughout the game. She only cashed in on a try from Matthieu Jalibert on a billiard shot. The opening half taking advantage of a loose ball to flatten after a foot game for himself (10-10, 17e).
This try put an end to a first quarter of an hour of madness opened by a fine corner try from Montpellier’s Vincent Rattez (7-3, 7e). Above all, Bordeaux-Bègles no longer managed to force the Hérault lock. Too often penalized against the rough and rigorously organized defense of Montpellier, the UBB never managed to register the saving test, or at worst to pass a penalty or a drop.
The drop brought up to date
Indeed, on the lawn of the Allianz Riviera, the drop was fashionable on Saturday evening. Paolo Garbisi managed the first of the game to widen a first gap (10-3, 13e) before being imitated by his teammate Anthony Bouthier just before the break (13-10, 40e). On the Bordeaux side, Matthieu Jalibert and François Trinh-Duc both missed the target in this phase of the game, not so usual in the rugby offered in recent years.
For the UBB, the adventure stops like last season at the gates of the final, which always refuses to it. “It’s a disappointment because the journey ends there, regretted Matthieu Jalibert on Canal+. We have not found the key to put them in difficulty. Montpellier was stronger than us, they wanted more. We were never able to put our game in place, we did not deserve to go to the final. »
Last year, Bordeaux-Bègles lost in the semi-final against future champions, Stade Toulouse (24-21). Montpellier hopes for the same outcome of an already almost successful season. The logic of the Top 14 is in any case respected since the first of the regular season (Castres) will be opposed to his dolphin (Montpellier) with the stake 123e shield of Brennus.