Stade Francais v Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s unbeaten run in the Pool stages of the European Challenge Cup came to an end this evening as they went down by three tries to two against a strong Stade Francais side at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris.
Scores from both wings Damien Hoyland and Dougie Fife set up an enthralling finale, but despite the loss, the capital side still progress through to the knock-out stages having already secured a home quarter-final last weekend.
The capital side will welcome fellow Guinness PRO14 outfit Cardiff Blues to BT Murrayfield on Easter Weekend and exact dates and kick-off times will be confirmed by tournament organisers EPCR in due course.
After the final whistle, Head Coach Richard Cockerill said: "I'm disappointed that we didn't front up in that first 20 minutes, but now the players are beginning to realise the level it takes - physically and mentally - to play away from home in France against a good side.
I thought across the board that we learnt something about ourselves - that actually we're better than we think we are. If we apply ourselves and stay in the battle and we play every minute like we mean it, we're good enough to at least keep pace with big teams like Stade
The first half was a fairly turgid affair as the poor Stade Jean Bouin surface peeled away beneath the feet of both sets of players. The home side managed to grind out two scores in the opening ten minutes however to put Edinburgh well and truly on the back foot.
Prop Paul Alo-Emile stretched over from close range to open the scoring before stand-off Shane Geraghty chipped ahead for centre Jonathan Danty who was in hot pursuit. Geraghty converted the first try to make it 12-0.
Edinburgh emerged from the half-time break more assured and began to establish a serious foothold in the game.
Stade started to ring the changes and among their replacements was a certain super-sub in Sergio Parisse.
Despite the firepower from the bench, the visitors were soon across the whitewash through Damien Hoyland, but Jaco van der Walt was off target with the conversion. 12-5.
As the hour mark approached, the hero’s welcome given to Parisse as he took the field resounded once more as the Italian rounded off some slick handling to crash over the line. 17-5.
There was then occasion for a moment of personal celebration for both scrum-halves as Nathan Fowles left the field having won his 50th cap to make way for Sam Hidalgo-Clyne as he achieved his 100th.
Stade continued to push hard as they went in search of a bonus point try and a seventh seed place in the knock-out stages - anything less than a win and they were out of the competition.
The final six minutes ticked by on the clock and the game was eventually turned on its head. Dougie Fife chased down a van der Walt chip through and dribbled the ball over the line before pouncing on it in the corner with just inches to spare.
The visitors continued to push hard and put Stade under pressure but the clock ticked away and the hosts booted the ball into the stands to end the game 17-10.
Full-time score: Stade Francais 17-10 Edinburgh
Stade Francais: Tony Ensor; Julien Arias, Waisea Nayacalevu, Jonathan Danty, Djibril Camara; Shane Geraghty, Charl McLeod; Zurabi Zhvania, Laurent Panis, Paul Alo-Emile, Paul Gabrillagues, Alexandre Flanquart, Mathieu De Giovanni, Mathieu Ugena, Sekou Macalou
Replacements: Craig Burden, Heinke Van der Merwe, Giorgi Melikidze, Steevy Cerqueira, Sergio Parisse, Arthur Coville, Paul Williams, Jimmy Yobo
Edinburgh Rugby: Darcy Graham; Damien Hoyland, Mark Bennett, Junior Rasolea, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Nathan Fowles; Rory Sutherland, Cameron Fenton, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie, Lewis Carmichael, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Cornell Du Preez
Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Kevin Bryce, Matt Shields, Grant Gilchrist, Bill Mata, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, James Johnstone, Dougie Fife