Handre Pollard fired for Montpellier, but it was ultimately not enough to see his side to victory over Pau on Friday, writes French-based journalist JAMES HARRINGTON.
Pollard put six months with no rugby behind him in double-quick time, playing as if he’d never been away, as he scored 13 points for Montpellier and created the first Top 14 try of the 2020-21 season.
But his efforts were in a losing cause, as Montpellier conceded 22 penalties and – ultimately – the game.
The flyhalf was one of four South Africans in Montpellier’s starting lineup, while head coach Xavier Garbajosa kept Bismarck du Plessis and Cobus Reinach in reserve for a second-half assault.
But the match refused to go to plan. The hosts were expected to overwhelm Pau, and appeared well set at half time with a 23-10 lead, despite an early power cut that halted the game for close to 15 minutes.
Cobus Reinach came off the bench after 53 minutes, and wasted no time making his presence known. But after an early dart, his teammates and he were reduced to defense as Pau – for whom prop Lourens Adriaanse came on early in the second half – refused to go quietly into the night.
Pollard’s young opposite number, Antoine Hastoy, kept Pau in the game and stole the show, before an after-the-hooter penalty try gave the visitors the points, as they nilled a star-studded Montpellier in the second period to win 26-23.
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