Stade Francais hangs on for Final spot

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 16:24
Large jules plisson stade francais celebrates 800

CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: George Ford missed a last-gasp penalty for Bath as Stade Francais won 28-25 on Sunday to reach the European Challenge Cup Final.

Jules Plisson had given Stade the lead in Paris with a nerveless drop goal 30 seconds from the end of a pulsating match. It wasn't finished there, though, as Bath piled forwards and forced a penalty. Yet from wide out on the left, Ford missed and Stade will play Gloucester in the Edinburgh final on May 12.

Gloucester beat French Top 14 leaders La Rochelle 16-14 on Saturday night.

Stade and Bath put on a stunning display of attacking rugby at the Jean Bouin Stadium in the French capital and the most dramatic of finales. Yet there was little indication in the first half of what would come later as Stade took control early on through Geoffrey Doumayrou's try that helped them to an 11-6 half-time lead.

Plisson took a perfectly weighted pass from Australian international scrumhalf Will Genia to score under the posts on 48 minutes, converting to give Stade an 18-6 lead.

Bath were wobbling but when the fightback started, it quickly built momentum as they swung the ball from side to side probing for an opening. Fijian-born British soldier Semesa Rokoduguni was twice given a one-on-one chance against Stade Francais fullback Hugo Bonneval.

The first time the wing was smothered by covering defenders, but the second he side-stepped the Frenchman and cantered over in the right corner on 63 minutes. Bath were now in total control and created space on the opposite wing where New Zealander Robbie Fruean bulldozed through a desperate diving tackle by Genia to score.

Ford missed the conversion leaving the scores level at 18-18 but he would have another chance to transform five points into seven immediately afterwards. More Bath pressure saw Stade crack all too easily and replacement lock Elliott Stooke strolled over under the posts.

Ford's conversion meant Bath had turned a 12-point deficit into a seven-point lead in just eight minutes.

But two minutes from time, Stade broke from inside their own 22 with Djibril Camara brushing off a weak tackle by Anthony Watson and then passing inside for Australian lock Hugh Pyle to sprint 50 yards and score.

Plisson dissected the posts and it was all square again.

Stade regained the ball from the restart and drove straight up the field for Plisson to knock over the winning points. Yet still the game wasn't over, Bath reclaiming the restart and after Watson and Rokoduguni failed to turn a two-on-one chance into a try, Stade gave away a penalty.

Nerves of steel were required but Ford's effort faded to the right and Stade's celebrations began.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 25 November 2017
Bath v Harlequins 11h15 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
Sun, 26 November 2017
Zebre v Munster 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Kings v Scarlets 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 Allianz Park
London Irish v Wasps 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 2 2 0 0 10
Wasps 2 1 0 1 5
Ulster 2 1 0 1 4
Harlequins 2 0 0 2 1
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 2 2 0 0 10
Clermont Auvergne 2 2 0 0 9
Ospreys 2 0 0 2 3
Northampton Saints 2 0 0 2 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 2 2 0 0 10
Exeter Chiefs 2 2 0 0 8
Montpellier 2 0 0 2 3
Glasgow Warriors 2 0 0 2 0
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leicester Tigers 2 1 0 1 6
Munster 2 1 1 0 6
Racing Metro 2 1 0 1 5
Castres 2 0 1 1 3
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Bath 2 2 0 0 8
Toulon 2 2 0 0 8
Scarlets 2 0 0 2 2
Treviso 2 0 0 2 1