Montpellier remain on course for Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final qualification as Pool 3 winners – and victory at Newcastle Falcons on Friday night would take them a giant step closer to a place in the last eight in April.
“We aimed at qualification from the start of the season and at present we are still within reach of that goal,” said back row forward and captain Vassili Bost. “However, we have two complicated games left in the Pool phases against two big English squads so we know it will be tough.
“Exeter Chiefs, despite being newly promoted, have shown that they are up there with the rest of the English squads and are very physical up front. They beat Newcastle twice in three encounters this season – including a big win in Round 3 of the Amlin Challenge Cup – and they only lost to them by two points in Round 4 so we cannot take them lightly.
“The level in this competition has intensified in the last few years, especially the last two seasons with the introduction of the new quarter-final qualification format. That means the teams have to go up one gear to secure first place in their respective Pools to make it to the knock-out stages.
“There is hardly any room for error now but it’s great to see some Heineken Cup teams taking part in the quarter-finals. It makes the tournament more attractive for us because you get to compete against big squads.
“The Heineken Cup is also one of the long sought after goals we set ourselves at Montpellier and since the club has never played in that competition it remains a massive ambition.
“We may finally be able to get there, either by qualifying through the Amlin Challenge Cup or through our Top 14 ranking, which seems more likely seeing that we currently stand in third position. We take one game at a time and we’ll see where that takes us.
“Now we start our two remaining Amlin Challenge Cup rounds with a trip to Newcastle. We will approach that game very cautiously because even though we beat them earlier in the season that does not mean we will repeat that performance and this time we are away from home. We will try to impose our game and we will keep in mind that we need to secure our first position in the table.
“We will have to be strong, compete physically and dominate in the scrum in particular. In Round 2 we struggled to gain territory in the earlier stages of the game then we managed to find solutions and find the breaks.
“My best memory so far in the Amlin Challenge Cup was last year in Round 1 when we went to Worcester with a team consisting mostly of young players and came away with a win. We didn’t expect to succeed but we played with all our hearts and managed to impose our game.”