Stade Français v Edinburgh
Edinburgh Rugby were unable to stage a repeat of last weekend’s defeat of Stade Francais with the Parisian outfit claiming a 26-20 victory in round four of the Challenge Cup tonight at Stade Jean Bouin.
However, an impressive second-half display saw the visitors narrow a 23-point half-time deficit to claim a losing bonus-point, which may prove vital in determining Edinburgh’s further progress in the competition.
The Parisian outfit crossed the whitewash four times before the turn – three tries of which were converted – with Edinburgh’s only first-half points coming through a Jason Tovey penalty.
The second-half proved a very different affair, however, with Edinburgh crossing the on three occasions with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s 78th minute try closing the gap to six points and secure a losing bonus-point at the close of the game.
Stade Francais came out the blocks firing and after a prolonged period of pressure hooker Remy Bonfils crashed over the whitewash to open the scoring on ten minutes with stand-off Jules Plisson adding the extras (7-0).
Edinburgh looked as though they had replied as Ben Toolis broke off a driving maul and powered his way to the line but after consultation with the TMO, referee Dudley Phillips deemed the lock committed a double movement on his approach to the line.
Tovey got Edinburgh on the scoreboard on 16 minutes with a penalty, yet the home side widened the gap further shortly after with a try from Huge Bonneval, which went unconverted (12-3).
Stade had their tails up and they were awarded with their third score of the night when the man in charge deemed an Edinburgh scrum offence worthy of a penalty try while also brandishing tighthead Simon Berghan with a yellow-card in process, despite this being his first infringement.
Plisson again converted and was shortly called back into action when he added the extras to a try from centre Geoffrey Doumayrou – his side’s fourth of the night – following an impressive passage of play from the Parisians (26-3).
Stade back-row Sylvain Nicolas was shown a yellow-card for a ruck infringement, a minute before Edinburgh returned to full complement with the reintroduction of Berghan.
Half-time: Stade Francais 26 – 3 Edinburgh Rugby
Edinburgh took advantage of their extra man in the opening exchanges of the second-half when lock Fraser McKenzie powered his way over the home-side’s line for his side’s first try of the evening. Tovey’s conversion attempt rebounded off the upright (26-8).
Shortly after Stade’s Plisson was disallowed a try for foul play in the lead-up to his score, action moved up the other end as Blair Kinghorn came close before replacement back-row Viliame Mata – who had entered to fray only two minutes previous – ran a short ball of the ruck and skipped his way through the defence to touch down.
Tovey’s successful conversion closed the gap to 11 points, with momentum now in the hands of Hodge’s men.
The structure of the game became loose as the match went into the final stages, with both sides mounting forays in an attempt to close out the affair in their favour.
Hidalgo-Clyne scampered in for a third score to close the gap to six points with less than two minutes left on the clock, yet they were unable to improve on the 26-20 scoreline as the referee’s whistle blew to close the game.
Full-time: Stade Francais 26 - 20 Edinburgh Rugby