Just a hair away from bringing home a well-deserved bonus point from Saturday’s trip to La Rochelle (18-10), MHR have reason to deeply regret a penalty that Carbonel eventually missed after the siren. Especially when Patrice Collazo felt his 7-1 bench was capable of tilting this tight game to the bottom of the Top 14. Manager Hérault said he was proud of his group in front of the microphones.
Your team really pushed this Saturday night but lacked reality…
I’m disappointed because we came up with a very specific strategy and it almost worked. I am disappointed with the players, given their commitment. The last action is difficult for Luis (Carbonel), seeing the match he has, not to convert this bonus point. A lot of things are hard for guys. We should have paid for ourselves tonight considering the occasional interesting stuff. Like in the last sequence where we will look for this punishment. But if you enter the scoring zone 6 times in a half and take only 3 points, you are automatically at the bottom of the gap against the team at the top of the table.
Why this bench in 7-1?
It was the fifteenth game in a row. When we get tired, so do they. La Rochelle has never been in the Top 6 since the beginning of the season, they have to fight in the Championship and in the European Cup, they have many players who have played 80 minutes, in Toulon they left a lot of strength in a match they should have won… It is a specific strategy in relation to a number of things such as analyzing the timing of our players and theirs. We managed to make some rotations in the European Cup and regenerate certain guys. They needed to get a lot of points for the Top 14 and they had to play cup Europe with some pressure. So we worked a little…
Feeling any wear and tear after this long block?
No ! I didn’t feel worn out. No no. We are used to taking zero points when we see what we put into it. The players are disappointed. As I told them, we have a week off before we go to Racing.
Are you happy with your team’s defense?
Rochelais tries to force the opponent into a mistake in his 40m, send a penalty and beat the boys. We were ready for it. In the first sequence, we take a 5-minute dose. They get 3 points but we still defend for 5 minutes. Defensively, we were never broken in that 22-22 zone. After several periods of play and one or two defensive errors on our part, we were broken at the lines where there wasn’t necessarily a surplus. It’s a shame because the strategy almost worked… You can’t come here and lose one on one. Rochelais rely on a certain profile of players that we have identified. This is why this 7-1 strategy will bring in fresh attackers. For the opposite player, 80 minutes against guys with 140 plates, it starts to get complicated. We knew they weren’t going to have 80 minute battery life.
La Rochelle – Montpellier: a summary of La Rochelle’s victories during the 14th day of the Top 14
Did the early departures of Bouthier (replaced by Reinach) and especially Serfontein (replaced by Simmonds on Wednesday) disrupt your plans?
No. Because with Sam Simmonds we found we may have had a very good 12 in the club! I’m not surprised. Sam is a hybrid player, he played a very good game in the 12, he constantly drove us forward. It didn’t destabilize us. “Antho”, we had to train him because he was hit twice, three times, exactly as he should have been. But with the energy that Cobus has, it didn’t show. In the end we found ourselves with two nines, sharing half the pitch and so we managed to get the ball in our hands and put Rochelais in trouble.
You had three pillars on the bench, no foot…
We had no choice because Vano (Karkadze) went into selection. We got caught in two scrums, but we corrected the situation. we adapt. To play such a match after fifteen consecutive days of competition, I would immediately sign. But we are disappointed because we deserved better. Be careful, if La Rochelle won, it’s because the Rochelais did the right thing. They were clinical where we were not. They won, period.
Did you talk about 7-1 with Cobus Reinach, the only one on the bench for three quarters?
I didn’t need it, she’s been doing it since she was little, 7-1s. So he laughed when the team was announced. He told me, “It’s okay, I cover from 9 to 15.” Nothing new under the sun for him. He laughed.