During each Top 14 match, L’Indépendant provides its analysis and insights. Following the victory against Montpellier (23-16), let’s take a closer look at the outstanding performance of the blood and gold.
We were impressed by:
The last five minutes
From the 74th minute onwards, the Catalans found themselves without possession of the ball. They had to maintain their seven-point lead until the end (23-16). Montpellier launched a siege within 22 meters of USAP’s territory and earned a penalty due to a foul by Lucas Velarte in a ruck (76th minute). Benoît Paillaugue, facing the posts from 15 meters away, decided to go for a lineout to seek a draw instead of securing a defensive bonus. Although Montpellier managed to secure the throw and launch a maul towards the try line, Jerónimo de la Fuente prevented the Georgian hooker, Karkadze, from scoring. Montpellier regained possession when Allan returned the ball in-goal. However, Arthur Vincent, under pressure from Duguivalu, committed a forward (79th minute). In the ensuing scrum, with USAP’s introduction, Héraultais regained possession and launched a final attack. But the blood and gold defense prevailed, with Mathieu Acebes tackling Alexandre De Nardi and initiating a counter-ruck on Julien Tisseron. Victory was secured!
read also: Rugby union – Top 14: the decisive role of USAP’s forward pack against Montpellier
Patrick Sobela, once again
What a performance by Patrick Sobela (31 years old, 1.90 m, 104 kg) on Saturday against Montpellier. After recovering from a hamstring injury against Toulon, the third-row forward was rested for the trip to Toulouse. Returning as a starter for the sixth time this season in seven games, the former Lyon player played the full 80 minutes and displayed exceptional defensive skills. Just like in the matches against Paris (10 tackles), Clermont (19 tackles), and Pau (20 tackles), Sobela emerged as the top tackler of the game with 13 successful tackles. He also beat two defenders with just three carries. A remarkable performance.
read also: Rugby XV – Top 14: “This victory is one of the turning points of the season,” admits Patrick Sobela, the USAP third-row forward, after the success against Montpellier
We were not impressed by:
Mr. Nuchy’s refereeing
Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy’s performance as the referee on Saturday was questionable. Several of his decisions, whether in favor of the Catalans or Montpellier, were surprising. It raises the question of why the central referee does not make better use of the video technology available to avoid errors with significant consequences. For instance, he awarded a very harsh penalty for a “voluntary forward” by Tavite Veredamu, which led to Montpellier’s only try of the game (16th minute). Mr. Nuchy, who was on the sidelines during the Toulouse-USAP match last week and reported David Marty’s behavior, will not be remembered fondly by both teams.
read also: Rugby XV – Top 14: USAP’s victory against Montpellier, a display of resilience
The condition of the pitch
The Aimé-Giral pitch was in poor condition on Saturday. It was filled with holes and sand, resembling a field in the month of August. This is a direct consequence of the drought, but it is not befitting of a Top 14 stadium. Many teams have switched to synthetic or hybrid surfaces, but Toulon, Montpellier, and USAP still play on 100% natural grass. However, sometimes it can cause unexpected challenges…