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Stade Francais Paris
Fixture Type: Amlin Challenge Cup
Match Date: Sun 08 Dec 2013
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Neil Paterson
Assistant Referee: David Changleng
Assistant Referee: Graeme Marshall
Tom Fowlie and Alex Lewington crossed for tries in each half to ensure a victory that places London Irish in a very promising position in the pool.
Shane Geraghty and Chris Hala'ufia were the outstanding performers and created all that was good about the Exiles play.
It was a lively opening to this round three Amlin Cup tie, Irish were looking to play right from the off and the star studded French side opted for a similar approach.
The Madejski Stadium track was in pristine condition and well suited to a running game of rugby. The Exiles made good inroads into the Stade Francais 22 with Chris Hala'ufia carrying plenty of ball in the first quarter. This led to the first penalty opportunity for Shane Geraghty who made no mistake.
As can often be the way in professional sport, you are must vulnerable to concede points straight after you have scored them. That is how Stade got themselves on the board as the Irish forwards failed to deal with the resulting re-start and put themselves under unnecessary pressure. Jerome Porical stepped up and slotted a straightforward penalty as a result.
Shane Geraghty and Darren Allinson were orchestrating play well and their decision making was exceptional. However against the run of play Stade darted up the short side with Meyer Bosman feeding Julian Arias who darted up the short side and came within centimetres of scoring. The referee awarded Stade the scrum and then a couple of penalties which the Irish forwards responded really well too. Irish eventually won the penalty at the set piece, not however before Fergus Mulchrone was sent to the sin bin.
Down to 14 men Irish continued to play and were awarded a second penalty which the captain nudged over from out wide. Four minutes later Brian smith's side were celebrating their first try and what a try it was.
Bryn Evans won the line out and dropped the ball down to Darren Allinson who hit Guy Armitage up the middle. Allinson kept passing to his forwards around the corner to continue the momentum. Eventually the ball was passed back to Geraghty who dummied his opposite number and went on a majestic run down the righthand touchline, approaching the try line he switched the ball back inside to 18 year-old winger Tom Fowlie who scored his second try for the Exiles.
Tempers began to fray moving towards half time as both sets of forwards took exception to a couple of things. With a minute before the break Geraghty kicked his third penalty to make it 14-3 at half time.
Brian Smith rung the changes at half time and sent on an entirely new front row. Mike Mayhew introduced himself to the contest with a hard carry as he held off two defenders.
It was the visitors who struck first in the second half with a second Porical penalty to reduce the arrears to 14-6.
Irish responded and should of had their second try had the final pass not been knocked on. Shane Geraghty again was instrumental attracting two defenders into his channel before passing inside to Andrew Fenby who went through the hole provided. With one defender to beat his pass inside to Mulchrone was knocked forward with the line insight. Irish didn't let this knock their confidence and they continued to play expansive rugby.
Defensively however, Irish were again lacking in discipline at crucial times. Nic Rouse took one for the team and was sent to the sin bin as we approached the last quarter of the game. With a man advantage Stade kicked to the corner and drove their way to the line with hooker Remi Bonfils coming up with the try. Jerome Porical added the extras to make it a one point game.
Over 5, 500 spectators looked on nervously as the Parisians upped their tempo and intensity. Geraghty stemmed the flow with his fourth penalty to edge Irish ahead before another lack of discipline saw Mike Mayhew sent to the sin bin.
The final 10 minutes saw a battling Exiles side show the spirit that they are renowned for and it eventually told. Irish were inside the Stade 22 and with players all on the left hand side, Alex Lewington ran back to the right where he found himself with two forwards to beat. He stepped inside both and dived over for the try. Geraghty add the conversion to almost assure his side victory.
Irish played a territory based game for the last five minutes to round off the victory that places them at the top of the group. They travel to Paris next Saturday evening for the return fixture.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 3-0, 3-3, 6-3, 11-3, 14-3, 14-6, 14-13, 17-13, 24-13
Scorers: London Irish: Penalties: Geraghty (3, 19, 39, 61), Tries: Fowlie (23), Lewington (73), Conversions: Geraghty; Stade Francais; Penalties: Porical (5. 44); Tries: Bonfils (58); Conversions: Porical
15. Alex Lewington; 14. Tom Fowlie (rep: Eamonn Sheridan, 62); 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Guy Armitage; 11. Andrew Fenby; 10. Shane Geraghty (Captain) (rep: Myles Dorrian, 77); 9. Darren Allinson (rep: Tomås O'Leary, 77), 1. John Yapp (rep: Matt Parr, 40); 2. Jimmy Stevens (rep: Mike Mayhew, 40); 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: Jamie Hagan, 40); 4. Nic Rouse; 5. Bryn Evans; 6. Kieran Low; 7. Jebb Sinclair (rep: Declan Danaher, 23-28 rep: Johnny Harris, 77); 8. Chris Hala'ufia (rep: Declan Danaher, 74)
Replacements: 16. Mike Mayhew; 17. Matt Parr; 18. Jamie Hagan; 19. Johnny Harris; 20. Declan Danaher; 21. Eamonn Sheridan; 22. Myles Dorrian; 23. Tomås O'Leary
15. Jerome Porical; 14. Julien Arias; 13. Herman Meyer Bosman; 12. Jonathan Danty; 11. Djibril Camara; 10. Jules Plisson (rep: Peter Lydon, 70); 9. Richard Kingi, rep: Julien Dupuy, 55); 1. Zak Taulafo (rep: Zurabi Zhavania, 55); 2. Remi Bonfils (rep: Laurent Sempere, 65); 3. Davit Kubriashvili (rep: David Attoub, 55); 4. Gerhard Mostert ; 5. Anton van Zyl; 6. Scott Lavalla (rep; Olivier Missoup, 6,: rep: pascal Pape, 61); 7. Pierre Rabadan (Captain); 8. David Lyons
Replacements: 16. Laurent Sempéré; 17. Zurabi Zhvania; 18. David Attoub; 19. Pascal Papé; 20. Olivier Missoup; 21. Julien Dupuy; 22. Peter Lydon; 23. Hugo Bonneval
Referee: Neil Patterson