At 14 against 15 for more than an hour, La Rochelle got the better of Montpellier (22-9) to preserve its invincibility at home. Kevin Gourdon scored the only try of the game. With this success, the Maritimes will spend the New Year at the top of the Top 14.
By avoiding taking water against Montpellier this Sunday, La Rochelle has preserved its invincibility at home and retains the lead of the Top 14 at least until the beginning of next year. The Maritimes got the better of the MHR in one of the Boxing Day posters (22-9). To achieve this, they had to face the elements that were unleashed on the Marcel-Deflandre stadium and especially the early expulsion of Will Skelton.
From the 16th minute of play, the New Zealander received a red card for a charge to the shoulder that struck Paul Willemse. The score was then 3-3 thanks to penalties achieved by Ihaia West then Anthony Bouthier. This sanction could have made Ronan O’Gara’s men lose their footing, but they managed to keep their heads above the water. Facing the wind and in the pouring rain, they resisted the Hérault residents despite the numerical inferiority. Even if Anthony Bouthier took advantage of this penalty to put his own in front, Ihaia West responded with two kicks that went between the poles before the break. At half-time, La Rochelle had regained the advantage. And never let go.
Thanks to a favorable wind, Kevin Gourdon visited the Hérault in-goal after only 18 seconds of play in the second period. On the engagement, the ball escaped all the defense of Montpellier but not the French international who was the quickest to jump into the promised land. Ihaia West converted the try and passed two more penalties to allow the Top 14 leader to take the lead. The one achieved by Alex Lozowski 20 minutes from the siren did not change anything: the Rochelais were serious enough in defense to maintain their advantage in the score, stretch their unbeaten streak at home and confirm their status as leader of the Top 14.
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