Ouedraogo primed for Bath clash
November 15, 2011
Ouedraogo crossed the line for Montpellier against Leinster © Getty Images
Montpellier captain Fulgence Ouedraogo has rallied his troops ahead of Sunday's clash with Bath at the Recreation Ground and argues that it will be a tougher match than their Heineken Cup opener against Leinster.
The Heineken Cup newcomers were outdone by a late Jonathan Sexton penalty as they came within a minute of an impressive victory over the reigning champions - having to settle for a 16-16 draw instead. And Ouedraogo has called on his side to raise their game ahead of Sunday's trip to the Rec.
"There is nothing like Heineken Cup games to help us progress, to be even more diligent and to gain experience," Ouedraogo said. "Our second game promises to be even tougher than last Saturday's in the sense that we travel to an English club we know to be highly motivated and, with the final being held at Twickenham Stadium, they are ambitious and will want to qualify for the knock-out stages.
"They have lots of great international players such as Matt Banahan, Lewis Moody, Lee Mears and Simon Taylor, and, as it is an away game, we know it is going to be extremely challenging. They also have a new recruit in All Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald who will add to an already rich group.
"We know the overall quality of their squad and that by taking part in the Heineken Cup we would face the best teams in Europe so with Leinster last Saturday and then Bath to follow, we are certainly doing just that from the very start."
And the French flanker believes his side will have learnt some valuable lessons after their draw with Leinster. "We are disappointed not to win our first Heineken Cup fixture," Ouedraogo said. "It was a big moment for us, we moved to Stade de la Mosson for the occasion, and we were close to a win so it was very frustrating.
"Now we realise the difference between a champion club used to those big games and ourselves, who still need to learn. It comes down to the small details that they master, they have a bigger intensity in the way they play and maintain that pace until the very end. Perhaps we are guilty of having relaxed too early.
"We couldn't convert our actions into points and finish off our phases, which at times were very long. And against a team like Leinster you pay a hefty price for not being thorough. They didn't flinch at any point and played at full speed all the time - they even increased the rate towards the end and it was hard for us to stay with them.
"But our young team managed to stand up to them and measure up to their players and we will have to build on that performance."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9