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Stormers scrum Stade Français into submission amidst farcical scenes

MATCH REPORT: The Stormers not only confirmed their place in the Champions Cup Round Of 16, but they also ensured they will host the game when Europe’s premier competition reaches the play-offs in April.

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Outscoring their hosts by four tries to three in a dramatic match at Stade Jean Bouin, in Paris – with some farcical scenes in the closing 10 minutes – the Stormers beat Stade Français 24-20 to secure second place in a very tough Pool Four.

Before Sunday’s final pool match between defending champions La Rochelle and Sale Sharks, Irish province Leinster tops the pool with 19 points, followed by the Stormers (14 points), Leicester (nine), La Rochelle (seven), Sale (five) and bottom-place Stade Francais (two).

The winner of the La Rochelle versus Sharks match will finish third in the pool, at best.

And the loss means the famous Paris team has been knocked out of not only the Champions Cup, but also won’t feature in the Challenge Cup – a spot reserved for teams finishing fifth in the top tier.

The Stormers now have a four-week break – their next match is a United Rugby Championship encounter with the Sharks in Durban on February 17.

It affords them the perfect time to reset, after a game that was as energy-sapping as it was dramatic.

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It took Stade Français just a minute to open the scoring – a turnover inside their 22 saw Andy Timo step through the visiting defence and over the line. Joris Segonds hooked the conversion attempt to the right of the posts, but the home team was up and running – 5-0.

The Stormers settled quickly, winning a scrum penalty and setting up a line-out. From the maul, scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies sniped around the short side and in at the corner. Libbok’s conversion was also wide – 5-all after 11 minutes.

An offside penalty allowed Segonds to reclaim the lead – 8-5 after 13 minutes.

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That lead didn’t last long – a penalty allowing the Stormers to set a line-out five metres out and Ruben van Heerden converting the opportunity into a try. Libbok was timed out, as he took more than the required 90 second with the conversion attempt – 10-8.

A penalty that was reversed because of a lack of discipline by Stormers skipper Deon Fourie, gifted the home team, an attacking line-out, which became another penalty five metres out. Segonds faked kicking for touch, then tapped and two quick phases later Lester Etien was over. Segonds added the conversion – and the home team was back in the lead – 15-10.

The Stormers had a couple more opportunities to set up mauls close to the home team’s line, but Stade Français held firm and took that five-point lead into the half-time break.

Stade Français piled on the pressure right from the restart and after a couple of near misses, flank Mathieu Hirigoyen burst over from close range. Segonds was again wide of the mark with the conversion – 20-10.

The Stormers coughed up a couple of chances, allowing the ball to go unprotected at the breakdown and then having possession ripped from their grasp.

Just short of the hour mark Hendré Stassen barged over from close range, after fellow replacement Hacjivah Dayimani made some good ground. Manie Libbok succeeded with his first kick of the day and suddenly the gap closed to just three points – 17-20.

With just over 13 minutes remaining Stade Français was reduced to 14 men, when Francisco Gomez Kodela was yellow-carded for repeated scrum penalties. Almost immediately that became 12 – Clement Castets yellow carded for another couple of collapsed scrums and because the Stormers wanted to scrum it went to uncontested scrums and Stade Français had to lose a conditional player.

The game turned into a massive, farcical debate about how many players the French team had on the pitch.

After almost five minutes of reset scrums and debate, Manie Libbok strolled over for the try to put the Stormers back into the lead. Libbok added the conversion – 24-20

The game then descended into another bout of farcical debates about numbers as one of the yellow-carded players returned,

And then the Stormers conceded a scrum penalty, as the scrums became contested again.

However, the men from Cape Town hung on in desperation and won a breakdown penalty to finish the game.

Man of the match: Giovanni Habel-Kuffner was all muscles for Stade Français, while flyhalf Joris Segonds and scrumhalf Rory Kockott pulled the string in the backline. The Stormers had some brave men in their pack – Keke Morabe, Hacjivah Dayimani and captain Deon Fourie all very impressive. Our award goes to Stormers replacement Hendré Stassen – who not only spilt blood for his team, but brought some much-needed muscle to the trenches.

The scorers

For Stade Français
Tries: Timo, Etien, Hirigoyen
Con: Segonds
Pen: Segonds

For the Stormers
Tries: Jantjies, Ruben van Heerden, Stassen, Libbok
Cons: Libbok 2

Yellow card: Francisco Gomez Kodela (Stade Français, 66 – repeated infringements, collapsed scrum), Clement Castets (Stade Français, 69 – repeated infringements, collapsed scrums)

Teams

Stade Francais: 15 Leo Monin, 14 Peniasi Dakuwaqa, 13 Stephane Ahmed, 12 Lester Etien, 11 Mathis Ibo, 10 Joris Segonds, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Giovanni Habel-Kuffner, 7 Andy Timo, 6 Mathieu Hirigoyen, 5 Pierre-Henri Azagoh, 4 Paul Gabrillagues (captain), 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Lucas Peyresblanques, 1 Clement Castets.
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Hugo N’Diaye, 19 Romain Briatte, 20 Sekou Macalou, 21 Jules Gimbert, 22 Tanginoa Halaifonua, 23 Leo Barre.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Keke Morabe, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Hendré Stassen, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Stefan Ungerer, 23 Suleiman Hartzenberg.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

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