Glasgow Warriors 21 Montpellier 10: Jake White chuffed at spirited effort
Montpellier coach left Scotland with mixed emotions as his side conceded 21 penalties, but denied the Warriors a bonus-point win
Jake White praised a spirited Montpellier performance that denied Glasgow Warriors a bonus-point win in the European Champions Cup.
The Top 14 side were already out of quarter-final qualification contention when they arrived in the West of Scotland for their Pool 4 match with their opponents searching for a five-point haul to keep alive their chances.
It was tough because we never really got going. You can’t win a game if you give 21 penalties away and two yellow cards.
The visitors went behind to a DTH van der Merwe try in the first half, which came about from a trademark sweeping move through the hands of the backs, but bounced back with a well-taken effort through captain Thibault Privat as the Warriors failed to contest and effectively defend a catch and drive.
Outside-half Ben Lucas added to his earlier penalty goal with the conversion, while the Warriors were guilty of turning down several chances to keep the scoreboard ticking over by kicking for the corner as they set up camp in the Montpellier 22 for the more than 20 minutes of the first half.
The French club were aggrieved to go in at the break 10-7 up with replays showing Alex Dunbar’s pass to send the Canadian wing away for his first try was clearly forward, but missed by the officials.
Van der Merwe became the second Glasgow Warriors player to score a hat-trick in Europe — after Thom Evans in the Warriors’ 35-31 defeat at Bath in 2008 — with a second-half brace to take his personal tally for the club to 38 tries.
But with the Warriors continuing to turn down chances at goal to go in search of a fourth try, a determined defensive effort from the French side, and countless errors, denied them.
“I’m chuffed that they at least showed a bit of heart there,” White said.
“At one stage, when they were penalty: kick in the corner, penalty: kick in the corner, we could have got 40 or 50 points there if we had laid down and died, so I’m chuffed about that.
“It was tough because we never really got going. You can’t win a game if you give 21 penalties away and two yellow cards.
“I thought the guys played with a bit of heart at the end to keep Glasgow from getting the bonus-point try.”
Despite the absence of several key players — including French internationals François Trinh-Duc, Fulgence Ouedraogo and Nicolas Mas and former All Blacks Anthony Tuitavake and Rene Ranger — it was far from an overwhelming defeat for the Montpellier players, whose collective errors prevented them from producing much of a challenge.
There’s a lot to play for because a lot of these boys’ contracts are up for renewal and they’re looking to see if they’re going to be at the club next year.
English referee Luke Pearce penalised Montpellier 21 times during the game, with a number of infringements for offside that led to yellow cards for tighthead prop Pat Cilliers and wing Lucas Dupont for deliberate offside.
And White, the World Cup-winning coach who has a contract with the French club until the end of the season with an option to continue beyond if he feels he can overcome the language barrier to turn around the club’s fortunes, conceded he was left frustrated at aspects of his side’s performance.
“I’m disappointed, because we’re blown 21 times, mostly at the breakdown and tackle,” he added.
“It’s something we’ll have to look at in terms of what we’re teaching.
“Every time we got going, it was one, two phases and it looked like we were infringing at something at the breakdown and got penalised.
“It would have been a much better contest if we let the game flow a bit.
“There’s a lot to play for because a lot of these boys’ contracts are up for renewal and they’re looking to see if they’re going to be at the club next year.
“With that obviously comes a bit of anticipation, but it’s good to see that they didn’t give up, because they could have easily thrown in the towel.”