European Challenge Cup Final 2016/17 – Gloucester Rugby vs Stade Français

Gloucester and Stade Francais headed down to Murrayfield (Edinburgh) to battle it out for the European Challenge Cup trophy. Gloucester were looking for their third win of the title while Stade had been in 5 final and lost them all.

Gloucester got off to the best start with Sergio Parisse’s round the back pass led to Jonathan Danty throwing a loose pass that was picked off by Jonny May and nobody was going to catch the England speedster who raced away for the score. Billy Burns converted and exchanged penalties with Jules Plisson to give Gloucester a 10-3 lead.

They led for 20 minutes but then failed tp deal with a nice tactical kick from Will Genia. The Australian dug a little kick over the top and the Cherry and Whites failed to deal with it so Parisse dived onto the loose ball amidst the Gloucester defense.  After the conversion, the scores were tied level again.

Next came the very controversial turning point. As Jules Plisson put boot to ball, Willi Heinz flew in for the charge down. As the Kiwi came down, he made a slight contact with Plisson and the fly-half dropped to the floor. Referee John Lacey then decided to show a (in my opinion very unfair) yellow card and Gloucester lost their captain.

Lacey then made another strange decision when Greig Laidlaw hit a box kick over the top of the Stade defence. The bounce caught Hugo Bonnevale by surprise and it flew ove his head and Tom Marshall was in hot pursuit. He kicked the loose ball ahead but unfortunately it was just to long and he couldn’t quite dot down. Lacey called for the TMO just to check however something else arose from the referal. As Marshall chased the ball, Bonnevale clearly pulled the New Zealander back which was enough to stop the try from happening. Lacey turned down a blatantly obvious pull back and was greeted by the jeers of “you don’t know what your doing” from all of the Gloucester fans.

Gloucester were devastated after their last try was disallowed and then made a huge slip up when Marshall’s pass was picked off my Camara. The winger found the arms of Bonneval who in turn flung the ball to Jonathan Danty who used all of his gas to find his way to the chalk.

Geoffrey Doumayrou then secured the victory. The rumbustious centre ran a nice inside line to beat 4 Gloucester players and score to puncture Cherry and White hearts.

Gloucester did manage to salvage something when Darren Dawidiuk burst through a few tackles and found Ross Moriarty who scampered away but it was merely consolation. Stade Francais lifted the trophy for the first time ever although it did involve abit of fowl play. Sabah Slimani came of a half time ‘injured’ and put himself on the exercise bike! Laurent Panis came on and with 10 minutes left of the game, a freshened up Slimani came back on for Panis in a supposed blood replacement. Panis got taped up on no cut and no blood so came off. Slimani played out the rest of the game and as he and Panis celebrated after the final whistle, there was no tape on the props head anymore plus there was no cut…

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