ERCC: Montepellier v Exeter Chiefs Preview

Montpellier host the Exeter Chiefs on the 22nd of October at the Altrad Stadium.

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Montpellier v Exeter Chiefs | 22 October 14h00 | Altrad Stadium

To Win Match (80 mins)
Montpellier 1/5 | Draw 28/1 | Exeter 3/1

This season’s “Pool of Death” serves up another cracker this weekend, as Vern Cotter’s Montpellier host English-champions Exeter at the Altrad Stadium. The Frenchmen will look to restore the faith following their disappointing defeat at Leinster, while Exeter will be aiming to build on their win against Glasgow with another on Sunday afternoon.

Montpellier come into this European season with plenty of expectation riding on them. Following the departure of Jake White, Cotter has been tasked with turning this good team into a great one; starting with an assault on the Champions Cup title. The Frenchmen may have come unstuck against a very tough Leinster line up last time out, but they will back themselves to take down the visiting Chiefs this weekend.

While both of Montpellier and Leinster shared similar possession and territory statistics at the conclusion of their bruising encounter last week, it was the latter whose tactical nous really came to the fore. The Frenchmen would have learned a hard lesson from that defeat and will look to carry that knowledge through until the end of their campaign.

Exeter play a very similar brand of football to Montpellier, and this weekend’s set-piece battle looks set to be a thing of beauty. While Ruan Pienaar performed admirably in Ireland, it is perhaps the return of Aaron Cruden that could turn the game in favour of the hosts. Cruden was a late withdrawal last week after picking up a thigh injury, and the 2011-World Cup winner is expected to be back this Sunday. If he and Pienaar fire, it could be long day at the office for Exeter.

The Chiefs 24 – 15 win over Glasgow marked the latter’s first loss of the season, and credit must surely be shown to the Englishmen for the way in which they went about their business. That win would have done wonders for Rob Baxter’s side, as they look to improve on last year’s Champions Cup showing; a third-place finish in Pool 5.

Montpellier doesn't just offer a huge physical challenge amongst the forwards, but in the form of the hulking 135-kg Nemani Nadolo on the wing. The ex-Crusaders man bagged a brace against Leinster, and shutting him down early will be key for Exeter on Sunday. For all of Nadolo’s prowess on offence, however, the Fijian can be susceptible on defence; often finding himself caught out of position. If Exeter can somehow target his channel, they may be able to expose him.

Chiefs scrumhalf Nic White had a great game against the Warriors, and his decision-making may prove vital when it comes to outthinking the much-acclaimed Montpellier halfback duo. The Australian may have his work cut out for him, however, if his forwards fail to negotiate might of the French pack.

Verdict: Montpellier 1/5
Montpellier would not have taken that Leinster defeat lightly and will set their sights on claiming all five-points on offer this weekend. Exeter, for all their tactical prowess, may struggle in the trenches.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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