Stade Français vs Bath Rugby – European Challenge Cup – Semi Final

In the last round, Stade Francais just edged out the Ospreys despite being down to 14 men. On the other hand, Bath had smashed Brive. Surely Bath would be able to come out with the win. Surely…?

George Ford and Jules Plisson traded penalties just before Stade made an indent on the game. Hugo Bonneval ran onto the ball; bursting through the Bath line. He then fed a perfectly flat pass to Geoffrey Doumayrou who reach out amidst the tackles and scored.

Bath have struggled to start with pace throughout this season and suddenly they found themselves 11 points to 3 down to Stade Francais. They very nearly replied when Ford shimmied and fed Ben Tapuai. The Kiwi paced to line but as he reached out, he spilt the ball! George Ford did notch a penalty but it did not make up for the potential 7 on offer.

Stade and Will Genia the rubbed salt in the wounds when he played a perfect short ball which Jules Plisson ran full pelt onto and scored. After the conversion, the score was 18-6 and Bath were in need of a reply.

They ignited the comeback when Semesa Rokoduguni scooped up a loose ball an used his dazzling footwork to leave Bonneval for dead and race in for a wonderful solo try!

The comeback was then well and truly completed in the space of 3 minutes. Robbie Fruean did well to keep hold of a poor Anthony Watson pass but the New Zealander kept hold and ran full pelt towards the line. Jonathan Danty covered across but could not stop Fruean who powered over for the try. Ford’s conversion flew wide so the scores remainded level.

Despite the missed conversion, it did not take long for Bath to finally take the lead. George Ford gave a nice short ball to Elliot Stooke who dived over! Finally the lead was with Bath after an inspired comeback.

It all seemed to late for Stade but suddenly Hugh Pyle burst through in the 77th minute. There was nobody back for Bath and suddenly the big second row found himself with a run to the line. He won the foot race against Ford, handed him off and slid in. After Plisson’s conversion, the scores were level with 2 minutes left. What a finish it was set to be!

The game was tied at 25 all but it was Stade who looked the most threatening. They then turned that threat into points when Jules Plisson sat back in the pocket and banged over a marvellous drop goal! However, their was still 20 seconds on the clock.

From kickoff, Ford’s kick didn’t go ten metres. But, fortunatley for Ford, his forwards stole the ball back. After 2 minutes of Bath hammering away, they were finally awarded with a chance to take the game to extra time with a penalty. George Ford stepped up and hit the conversion to the right! He had squandered a huge opportunity to take Bath to Edinburgh. The referee blew his whistle to line up a Gloucester vs Stade Francais final in Edinburgh!

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