White eyeing six in a row for Montpellier

2016-03-31 07:22
Jake White (Gallo Images)

Paris - Montpellier's seemingly inexorable march towards a potential first French title will continue on Friday night led by a powerful South African contingent.

Led by former Springbok head coach Jake White, Montpellier are on a five match winning streak, in the last three securing the attacking bonus point and scoring more than 100 points in the last two alone.

With a pack led by brothers Bismarck and Jannie Du Plessis, with the rampaging Pierre Spies causing havoc from the No 8 position, Montpellier are looking increasingly impressive.

They host free-falling Brive on Friday night at their Altrad Stadium and there is a growing feeling in the south of France that the South Africans could be about to lead Montpellier to an improvement on their best ever Top 14 finish, a final defeat to Toulouse in 2011.

And White has his sights set firmly on catching leaders Clermont, currently six points ahead of Montpellier but facing a trip to European champions Toulon, who are second, on Sunday.

"I hope the match against Brive will be our sixth without defeat. I've seen Clermont are also on a six match winning run so that's a source of motivation," said White on Montpellier's official website.

"If Clermont can do it, then why not us? It's a good challenge and a good source of motivation.

"If we work hard and keep going this way, I think we can do it."

Clermont's last defeat was against Montpellier, at the time their third successive home reverse in the league, while a loss to Bordeaux at their ground also knocked them out of the European Champions Cup.

Having won at Clermont, Montpellier suffered a shock loss at home to strugglers Pau a week later, a result that has prevented them embarking on an even longer winning run.

And they face a Brive side heavily-reliant on the boot of fullback Gaetan Germain, who have scored the second fewest tries this season after Pau and who only ended a five-match winless run with last weekend's narrow 22-21 win at home to Castres.

Having been in contention for a top six finish, 1997 European champions Brive now sit eighth and 10 points off the play-off positions.

One of Montpellier's recent victims, Racing 92, who crumbled to a nine-try 60-7 rout two weeks ago, will look to stop the rot when they travel to Bordeaux.

The hosts are smarting from their collapse against Clermont last week when they let slip a 19-0 lead to lose 24-19.

But Racing are trying not to get side-tracked by their upcoming European Champions Cup quarter-final against the reigning champions Toulon a week later.

Having lost 21-20 to a last-gasp Frederik Michalak penalty last weekend at home to a second-string Toulon, Racing are trying to keep their concentration off the upcoming quarter-final for the time-being, despite flyhalf Dan Carter describing it as their "most important game of the season".

Forwards coach Laurent Travers, though, insists they're not taking their attention off Bordeaux, who are only a couple of places behind them in sixth.

"What we know is we have a big match at Bordeaux, who are also coming off a home defeat, so it will be a very tough, tight match," he said.

"They don't have a European Cup match to prepare for, we do, so we'll do what we have to play a great match against Bordeaux and then we'll focus on Toulon."

Elsewhere, champions Stade Francais, who are third from bottom, travel to La Rochelle while the bottom two are both at home, although Agen, who host Pau, and Oyonnax, entertaining Grenoble, both look already doomed, respectively 15 and 13 points from safety.

Toulouse, in fifth, are away at 2013 champions Castres, who must win to try to close the eight-point gap separating them from a place-off berth.


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