Montpellier out to continue final dream
May 28, 2011
Montpellier prop Juan Figallo comes in for some close attention from Racing © Getty Images
Racing Metro will continue their bid for a first French title since 1990 with a Top 14 semi-final against Montpellier on Saturday, with their rivals bidding for a first trip to a season finale.
Fabien Galthie's Montpellier have been the surprise package this season and bloodied Racing's nose back in August, with a first-half blitz setting up a 36-19 victory.
Racing responded with a 28-16 win on their own track and will have enjoyed their week off while Montpellier battle to a one-point win over Castres in the first round of play-off matches.
Racing Metro - Player to Watch: Fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski has been arguably the best playmaker in the league this season, keep an eye on him to see if he can fire a message to France coach Marc Lievremont, who overlooked him for their Rugby World Cup squad.
Racing Metro - Team News: Sebastien Chabal returns on the bench after having a suspension for criticising referees reduced, while in the back-row, Jacques Cronje starts at No.8. France international Benjamin Fall is at fullback, with Frans Steyn at inside-centre.
Montpellier - Player to Watch: Winger Martin Bustos Moyana is a points machine, knowing both the way to the try-line and how to punish sides from the kicking tee.
Montpellier - Team News: France fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc will steer the ship, with classy Pumas midfielder Santiago Fernandez also tasked with finding a spark. Fulgence Ouedraogo provides pace from the back-row while No.8 Mamuka Gorgodze will carry tirelessly.
Key Battle: Wisniewski v Trinh-Duc will be a cracker as the Montpellier fly-half looks to outdo his rival in the playmaking battle - he will hope to have Racing backpedalling.
Trivia: Montpellier are one of the younger sides in European rugby, having been founded in 1986 following a merger between Stade Montpelliérain and MUC Rugby.
Stats: Montpellier have outscored Racing five tries to four across their two games this season - both big home wins.
"This weekend, you have a heavyweight semi-final, Tyson-Holyfield, and another weight, Pacquiao-Mayweather." - Racing Metro coach Pierre Berbizier
"The goal is to have no regrets now, to play boldly and take our chance." - Montpellier's Benjamin Thiery
Prediction: Racing have been set up for days like this and with a favourable draw, should make the final that they crave.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park