Stade Français stays alive
EUROPEAN CUP REPORT: Joris Segonds last-gasp penalty kept Stade Français Paris’ hopes of qualification alive in a thrilling 37-31 victory over Connacht.
The Top 14 side needed a bonus-point win, plus a six-point margin of victory, to overtake Cardiff in the Pool B standings – Adrien Lapegue (two), Ngani Laumape, Kylan Hamdaoui and Ryan Chapuis notching for the hosts to complete their end of the qualification bargain.
They had to overcome the red card of hooker Tolu Latu to earn victory against a Connacht side who scored four tries on their own – Alex Wootton, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jarrad Butler on target.
Wootton opened the try-scoring in the sixth minute of the contest – a delectable crossfield kick was fielded by the former Ireland Under-20 international before he powered through three tacklers to dot down.
The Irish province thought they’d notched a second moments later, Wootton the catalyst again as he broke through the Stade Français defences before offloading to Blade – unfortunately for Connacht, a Farrell obstruction chalked off the try.
A Nicholás Sánchez penalty on 16 minutes was followed almost instantaneously by the hosts first try of the afternoon. A well-worked line-out saw scrum-half Will Percillier unleash a blindside offload to Lapegue who crossed the whitewash for the first of his two tries.
Jack Carty returned fire with a penalty for Connacht to level things at 10-all before Stade Francais had a try of their own chalked off. Léo Barré dotted down, however, Tolu Latu committed a dangerous clear-out, earning a yellow card.
Connacht took immediate advantage with the extra man as Caolin Blade notched before the break – a darting run off the back of a collapsed maul proved fruitful for the scrumhalf.
Despite starting the second half with 14 men, Stade Français crossed the whitewash in the opening minutes of the second half. A Sánchez break, coupled with an offload to Ngani Laumape, allowed the latter to dot down.
The hosts’ joy was short-lived, however, as the returning Latu launched an expletive-laden tirade at referee Wayne Barnes earning a second yellow card and an early bath.
Connacht scored their third try of the contest two minutes later, Farrell finishing in the corner after the Irish moved the ball swiftly through the hands in a pulsating move.
The under-manned hosts would not give up, however, as Hamdaoui crossed the whitewash for Stade Français’ third try of the afternoon soon after.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued to provide entertainment as Butler seemingly put the game beyond doubt as he touched down under the posts – a delightful one-two with pack-mate Conor Oliver earning the bonus point for Connacht.
Stade Français pulled within four points with ten minutes remaining, Ryan Chapuis powered through to score the bonus point try in the corner – Connacht’s Oliver earning a yellow card in the buildup.
With the game 14 v 14 for the remainder of the contest, Stade Français took the lead with five minutes to go, Lapague scoring his second of the afternoon to finish a sweeping move from the hosts.
Segonds then rifled a long-range kick against the post with a minute remaining – seemingly costing the TOP 14 outfit a shot a qualification, but a second kick as time expired was converted to maintain Stade Français hopes of a round of 16 spot.
For Stade Français
Tries: Lapegue 2, Laumape, Hamdaoui, Chapuis
Cons: Sanchez, Segonds 2
Pens: Sanchez, Segonds
Tries: Wootton, Blade, Farrell, Butler
Cons: Carty 4
Yellow cards: Tolu Latu (Stade Français, 34), Conor Oliver (Connacht, 67)
Red card: Tolu Latu (Stade Français, 46)
Stade Francais: 15 Kylan Hamdaoui, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Ngani Laumape, 12 Léo Barre, 11 Adrien Lapegue, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 William Percillier, 8 Tala Gray (captain), 7 Sekou Macalou, 6 Charlie Francoz, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Mathieu De Giovanni, 3 Paul Alo Emile, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Clément Castets.
Replacements: 16 Lucas Da Silva, 17 Moses Alo Emile, 18 Nemo Roelofse, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 James Hall, 22 Joris Segonds, 23 Paul Champ.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Sam Arnold, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Niall Murray, 4 Oisin Dowling, 3 Greg McGrath, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Jordan Duggan.
Replacements: 16 David Heffernan, 17 Charlie Ward, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Diarmuid Kilgallen.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Andrew Jackson (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)