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Stade Francais Paris
Fixture Type: Amlin Challenge Cup
Match Date: Sat 14 Dec 2013
Kick Off: 21:00
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin
Referee: Ian Davies
Citing Commissioner: Alberto Recaldini
Assistant Referee: Simon Rees
TV Match Official: Gareth Simmonds
Andrew Fenby opened the scoring for the Exiles before the hosts responded with four unanswered tries to claim the all important victory. Both sides now sit top of the group with two matches remaining to see who qualifies for the quarter finals. The bonus point try does however put the Parisians in the box seat.
The Exiles made an energetic start to this crucial encounter putting the hosts under pressure right from the off. Pressurised defence forced the Parisians into making an error as they kicked the ball straight out having left their 22. From the resulting line out the forwards charged into the Stade Francais pack with some powerful phase play. The ball was engineered wide and Irish came within centimetres of scoring when Leo Halavatau was judged to be short by the TMO.
From the resulting scrum the ball was carried by Ofisa Treviranus and after a quick clear out at the ruck Darren Allinson passed to Shane Geraghty who chipped the ball to the corner where Andrew Fenby plucked it out of the air and dotted down. A deserved score that their brilliant start warranted.
A lack of communication from the following re-start allowed Stade to win the ball and put them on the front foot. After a try was disallowed for a forward pass, Jules Plisson made amends by scything through the Irish defence to score adjacent to the posts. Jerome Porical added the extras to put the hosts ahead.
It was Stade indecision that allowed Shane Geraghty to kick his first points of the evening. They fumbled the re-start forward and regathered forcing an Irish penalty. Geraghty made no mistake to retake the lead.
Porical cancelled out Geraghty's penalty with his first of the evening before replacement hooker Michael Van Vuuren was driven over by his forward pack for their second try. Porical's conversion gave Stade Francais a significant lead.
Brian Smith's side worked their way back upfield and quickly reduced the arrears with two further Geraghty penalties. The Stade full back, Porical, cancelled one out on the stroke of half time to make it Stade Francais 20 London Irish 14 at the interval.
There was a lively start to the second half as holes began to appear in both defences. Alex Lewington exploited the open spaces to full effect with a darting run that took him past three defenders before chipping over the full back. The ball ran just too long and the home side were able to overt danger.
Jules Plisson's last act of the match before being replaced by Morne Steyn was to put in his own neat chip kick that he recaptured before racing for the line. He was dragged down by the joint tackle of Alex Lewington and Tom Fowlie too slow the ball down. With their tails up, the hosts spun the ball wide and Porical was left to run in their third try. Porical's conversion left Irish 14 points behind with 30 minutes remaining.
The game continued to flow from end to end with Irish in particular having to force their hand as they chased the game.
Stade kept their composure at the end and managed to score the all important bonus point try with a minute and a half remaining through back row forward Antoine Burbasn. Stade go level on points with Irish at the top of the group with two games to play.
Irish host Lusitanos in January before travelling to Caverlieri Prato where the group will be decided.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 5-0, 5-7, 8-7, 8-10, 8-17, 11-17, 14-17, 14-20, 14-27, 14-32
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Fenby (5); Penalties: Geraghty (17, 27, 37) Stade Francais: Tries: Plisson (14), Van Vuuren (24), Porical (49), Burban (78); Conversions: Porical (3); Penalties: Porical (20)
15. Alex Lewington; 14. Tom Fowlie; 13. Fergus Mulchrone; 12. Guy Armitage (rep: Eamonn Sheridan, 69); 11. Andrew Fenby; 10. Shane Geraghty (Captain) (rep: Myles Dorrian, 62); 9. Darren Allinson, 1. Matt Parr (rep: Johnny Harris, 71); 2. Mike Mayhew (rep: Jimmy Stevens, 56); 3. Leo Halavatau (rep: Jamie Hagan, 42); 4. Nic Rouse; 5. Bryn Evans (rep: geroge Skivington, 62); 6. Declan Danaher; (rep: Jamie Hagan, 31-34, rep: Blair Cowan, 62) 7. Kieran Low; 8. Ofisa Treviranus
Replacements: 16. Jimmy Stevens; 17. Johnny Harris; 18. Jamie Hagan; 19. George Skivington; 20. Blair Cowan; 21. Eamonn Sheridan; 22. Myles Dorrian; 23. Tomås O'Leary
15. Jerome Porical; 14. Hugo Bonneval 13. Geoffrey Doumayrou (rep: Jonathan Danty, 66); 12. Herman Meyer Bosman ; 11. Andrea Cocagi; 10. Jules Plisson (rep: Morne Steyn, 50); 9. Richard Kingi (rep: Julien Dupuy, 45); 1. Zak Taulafo (rep: Romain Frou, 50); 2. Aled De Malmanche (rep: Michael Van Vuuren, 4); 3. David Attoub (rep: Rabah Slimani, 50); 4. Alexandre Flanquart; 5. Gerhard Mostert (rep: Anton Van Zyl, 67) ; 6. Antoine Burban; 7. Pierre Rabadan (Captain); (rep: Nicolas Garrault, 70) 8. David Lyons
Replacements: 16. Michael Van Vuuren; 17. Romain Frou; 18. Rabah slimani ; 19. Anton van Zyl; 20. Nicolas Garrault; 21. Julien Dupuy; 22. Morne Steyn; 23. Jonathan Danty
Referee: Ian Davies