between Perpignan and Stade Montois, a barrage, two dynamics

between Perpignan and Stade Montois, a barrage, two dynamics

“We will also try to be ‘Forever the first'”, slipped Perpignan coach Patrick Arlettaz, a direct reference to Olympique de Marseille crowned in the Champions League in 1993. Top 14 has never won the access match. We’re going to tell ourselves that we want to be the first to have done it forever. A determined, self-confident, combative attitude. Like what USAP showed on its Aimé-Giral ground against Bordeaux residents who were definitely struggling at the end of the regular phase, and who failed to stem the Catalan enthusiasm, thus losing the opportunity to climb directly into the semi-finals.

“No Top 14 club has ever won the access match. We want to be forever the first to have done it”

Perpignan could even have hoped to leave the play-off place if the Stade Français had, at the same time, applied a little against Brive, 12th. Whatever. Since the start of the season, the Usapistes, the penultimate budget of the Top 14, knew that the season would be tough and that they were almost condemned to the bottom of the classification.

The important thing was above all not to finish last, like Biarritz, and thus go straight to Pro D2. “The access match is the most likely in terms of percentage,” confided scrum-half Tom Ecochard in early April. His manager abounded: “All the matches until then must prepare us for it. The USAP has been training for a while to play this jump-off and will come to Mont-de-Marsan with their suitcases full of confidence.

The Mons felled

Enough to fear the worst for a Mons formation that completely missed its subject in the final against Bayonne, and which seemed to let the match slip away around the hour mark. The hut having already fallen on the yellow dog and black, the flock of Patrick Milhet conceded twenty points in as many minutes, their desperate defense letting Maqala slip away twice then Dolhagaray, yet not the most inspired of the sky and white.

Before this final and throughout the end of the season, Mons players and supporters kept repeating that the rise to the Top 14 was not their priority, unlike the crowning of French Pro D2 champions, they who have been hoping for a title for twenty years and the almost forgotten victory of 2002. This impression that nothing mattered except the shield was reflected in the last moments of the match against Bayonne. After his try scored in the dying seconds, Pablo Dimcheff hit the sidelines as if to shorten his team’s ordeal. The referee reminds yellow and black that they still have to pull the conversion. An exercise that the Stadistes leave to their veteran, Carlos Muzzio, as if the pillar was playing his jubilee there, and that the barrage to come did not exist.

In a post-match press conference, Patrick Milhet, staring into space, indicated that he intended to rotate widely for the access match, against an opponent whose identity he did not know at the time. What to thank all its players by giving playing time to those left behind in the final? The manager denies it: “It was heartbreaking to make the team today, we had 39 players for 23 places. I think we’re going to rotate, bring energy, freshness. »

“Remobilize”

Despite the disappointment, Mons prop Victor Laval refuses to give up. “We must remobilize for the accession match tomorrow (today, editor’s note), he thundered. We must turn the page, be positive and move forward. This group has a huge character. I think we all question ourselves quickly, that’s what makes us strong. It doesn’t matter which team the coach puts on, we are all concerned. It pulls everyone up. »

The disappointment suffered in the final against Bayonne cannot make us forget the crazy season of Mont-de-Marsan, first in the regular phase of Pro D2 with 106 points. In front of their public in Boniface, the Stadistes must at least hold the candle high in Perpignan. And thus restore the shine that this yellow and black adventure 2021-2022 deserves.

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