Reborn Stade back on top
Sat, 28 Sep 2013 09:02
Stade Francais took top spot in France on Friday with an 18-11 win over Montpellier as the Paris giants confirmed their status as a rejuvenated force this season.
Stade scored two tries, one in each half, to claim a sixth win in eight games and open a four-point lead over European champions Toulon in second place and Montpellier in third.
"We expected a match of this level, they came with their best team," said Stade coach Gonzalo Quesada.
The capital city side have endured a lean time in France in the last four seasons, finishing in eighth, 11th, seventh and 10th place.
"We can be proud of this team, we haven't lost at home. The players know their limits but we are riding a positive wave," added Quesada.
"It's not a miracle. We work in silence and in the shadows for many months."
Last weekend, Stade moved into second spot after ending promoted Oyonnax's 22-month undefeated home run with a 16-15 win.
Montpellier, meanwhile, had shocked European Cup runners-up Clermont 43-3 with scrumhalf Jonathan Pelisse contributing 31 points.
Pelisse resumed where he left off on Friday by kicking a fourth minute penalty for a 3-0 lead.
But Pelisse wasn't allowed the same freedom to exploit spaces by Stade and after he missed another penalty and flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc had gone wide with two optimistic drop goal attempts, the home side pounced.
Julien Dupuy levelled with a penalty before skipper Sergio Parisse was twice involved in the move which led to the only try of the first half.
His crucial link-up play allowed wing Julien Arias to unleash a clever flicked pass which eventually led to prop Rabah Slimani finishing off the cross-field move.
Dupuy added the conversion for a 10-3 half-time lead at Stade Jean Bouin which had earlier observed a minute's silence for a worker killed in an accident at the ground on Wednesday night.
Dupuy then succeeded with a 47-metre penalty early in the second half for a 13-3 advantage which was quickly trimmed by a penalty by Pelisse.
Stade then grabbed their second try of the night when full-back Hugo Bonneval drew two defenders before quickly off-loading to Jules Plisson who sprinted away to score.
The try survived a video referral for a possible knock-on before Dupuy missed the conversion.
Stade's 18-6 lead didn't last too long as Trinh-Duc then went over in the corner for Montpellier for 18-11.
The French international fly-half fell short with the conversion and Stade comfortably played out the remainder of the game.
"It's almost an achievement to take a defensive bonus point in the context of the game," admitted Trinh-Duc.
"We were less rigorous, less precise than them and they put up a very aggressive defence."
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