Lions suffer first loss in Challenge Cup
MATCH REPORT: The Lions have suffered their first defeat in the Challenge Cup as they went down 7-17 to Stade Francais at Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday.
This is the fourth consecutive loss the Lions, who played in the unfamiliar colours of blue and yellow after their white kit was misplaced in transit, have suffered in a row.
The visitors struggled with their discipline and late in the game they were down to 13 players due to yellow cards to Gianni Lombard and JP Smith, while Henco van Wyk also got his marching orders after 70 minutes on the clock.
Big errors, especially among the back players put them on the back foot and in the end their set phases were not up to scratch.
The Lions had the perfect opportunity to beat Stade Francais in front of a passionate home crowd, but they had to take the game to the hosts and never managed to do that.
While the Lions were in complete control in the first half, handling errors let them down and it got worse in the second half, which ultimately led to a dismal performance, even though they led 7-0 at half-time thanks to a try by Emmanuel Tshituka.
Although Stade Francais played a defensive game early on, they came out after half-time with renewed vigour to go on and score 17 unanswered points.
The Lions could not take control of the game again despite sniping runners like Henco van Wyk and Edwill van der Merwe, who created opportunities to score tries, but never capitalised on it.
Coach Ivan van Rooyen will rue the fact that the Lions’ could not get the basics right while their maul defence were in tatters, which Stade Francais also capitalised on.
The errors cost the visitors dearly and late penalties by replacement flyhalf Arthur Coville also took a losing bonus point away from them.
It is a far cry from their previous encounter, which the Lions won 30-12 at Ellis Park in December.
Man of the match: The award goes to Stade Francais flank Julien Ory for his abrasiveness with ball in hand. He made some serious metres which helped his team get over the advantage line.
For the Lions
For Stade Francais
Pens: Segonds 2, Coville 2
Yellow cards: Alex Arrate (Stade Francais, 33′ – repeated infringements), Gianni Lombard (Lions, 52′ – taking out a player in the air), JP Smith (Lions, 54′ – head collision), Henco van Wyk (Lions, 67′ – cynical play)
Stade Francais: 15 Kylan Hamdaoui, 14 Nadir Megdoud, 13 Theo Dachary, 12 Alex Arrate, 11 Stephane Ahmed, 10 Joris Segonds, 9 James Hall, 8 Ryan Chapuis (captain), 7 Mathieu Hirigoyen, 6 Julien Ory, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Nathan Huguen, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Lucas Peyresblanques, 1 Moses Alo Emile.
Replacements: 16 Laurent Panis, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Paul Alo Emile, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Martin Scelzo, 21 Paolo Odogwu, 22 Arthur Coville, 23 Pienasi Dakuwaqa,
Lions 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Quan Horn, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Emile van Heerden, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Darrien Landsberg, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Rhynardt Rijnsburger, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Ruhan Straeulis 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 JC Pretorius, 22 Andre Warner, 23 Manuel Rass.
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales) & Tom Spurrier (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)