A quarter of an hour of fire and an omnipresent third-row but also a scrum-half who misses and an early injury… Find the Tops and Flops of the Top 14 final between Montpellier and Castres (29-10 ).
Anthony Bouthier, the handyman of the MHR
Author of the third Montpellier test after a wonderful combination with his friend Arthur Vincent (12th), the performance of the Hérault rear does not stop there. Accurate in coverage, Anthony Bouthier made the length of his kicking game speak to give air to his partners and distinguished himself with two well-felt interceptions when the Castrese domination increased in his camp. Three years after his arrival in Montpellier from Vannes and the Pro D2, the trajectory of the international rear (6 selections) continues to rise.
Arthur Vincent, a timely resurrection
His return was still unexpected just a few weeks ago. Seriously injured in the knee last October, Arthur Vincent made his return to the starting XV in the semi-final against Union Bordeaux-Bègles last weekend before being established again on the wing in of this final. Author of a recital, the French international (11 caps) was the first to score a try in the 7th minute after a well-adjusted foot pass by Zach Mercer before offering the third to Anthony Bouthier (12th ), after a blind pass of which he has the secret. Intractable in defense during the second act, the Montpellier player was one of the strong men of the MHR during this final.
Zach Mercer disgusts Castres Olympique
Like his high-flying season, the Englishman once again made his class speak to lead his teammates on the path to success. A decisive passer on Arthur Vincent’s first try, Zach Mercer spoke about his status as the player who carried the ball the most over the whole season as well as the one who managed the most passes after contact. Precise in his offensive choices in the first period, the one Eddie Jones is following closely for a possible return to the XV de la Rose was also a defensive poison for Castres Olympique, scratching two balls in the ruck areas and multiplying the tackles in front of his line.
Santiago Arata completely missed himself
Far from his capital performance against Stade Toulousain in the semi-final, the Uruguayan scrum-half was one of the symbols of the ghostly first quarter of an hour of Castres and their first failed act. Unable to inject rhythm into his partners, Santiago Arata appeared clueless and imprecise. His replacement Jérémy Fernandez, who came into play at the start of the second act, was much more restless, not hesitating to multiply the attacks on the advantage line and chained more quickly for his partners, dominating on the whole of the second period, without having managed to materialize their (many) opportunities.
Benjamin Urdapilleta, an expensive injury
No one knows if this final would have had another outcome without the early injury of the Argentinian pyrotechnician. Affected on the muscular level, the opener Benjamin Urdapilleta left his partners in the 11th minute, when they were down 12 to 0. Providential man of Castres Olympique, the number 10 was sorely missed by his teammates, who seemed to wait the return to the locker room to digest his exit on injury and their debacle of the first 40 minutes.