Amlin Challenge Cup: Stade Francais reach semi-finals with 36-20 victory over Bath
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: 06/04/13 9:41pm
Stade Francais ensured there will be no English representatives in the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals as they beat Bath 36-20 at The Rec on Saturday afternoon.
The Parisians join fellow French outfits Perpignan and Biarritiz and Irish side Leinster in the final four of the competition following a victory that owed much to the finishing prowess of Fijian winger Waisea Nayacalevu.
Bath started brightly enough and nearly went ahead following an eye-catching break from Kyle Eastmond who wriggled through a couple of defenders but was just brought down by Hugo Bonneval as he attempted to jink past the Stade full-back and to the line.
Ollie Devoto then missed a penalty attempt and, on the quarter hour, Stade hit the front as Jules Plisson made no mistake with the boot from 40 metres after Paul James was penalised for going off his feet.
The visitors extended the lead on 19 minutes as a slick three-quarter move saw the ball shipped rapidly from left to right creating an opening for Nayacalevu who powered over in the corner for a try converted by Jerome Fillol.
Fillol added a penalty to his kicking haul after a high-tackle from Stephen Donald, but the Stade scrum-half was then extremely fortunate that the officials did not spot him blatantly spitting at Peter Stringer, although Bath did get some justice as Donald kicked a penalty for a different offence to reduce the deficit to 13-3.
Stade's second try arrived on the half hour when a misplaced Donald pass bounced loose allowing Geoffrey Doumayrou to cleverly flick the ball out wide via Jeremy Sinzelle to Nayacalevu who charged unopposed to the line - Fillol again converted.
The Frenchmen were reduced to 14 men shortly before the break when prop Rabah Slimani was sin-binned for taking out Nick Abendanon in the air and, although they survived until his return early in the second half, Bath made their attacking intentions clear as they turned down a couple of kickable penalties to go for the corner.
They were rewarded following the second one as, having won the line-out, they created a rolling maul which would have resulted in a try had it not been for a cynical foul from Scott Lavalla which prompted referee Nigel Owens to award a penalty try and show the Stade man a yellow card - Donald converted to make the score 20-10.
But any hopes of a home fightback were extinguished by two tries in two minutes from Bonneval; the first was superbly created by a diagonal run and well-timed pass from Nayacalevu and the Fijian played a part in the second as well.
It was the winger who injected pace into a wonderful backline move that started at their own 22 and Bonneval was eventually on hand to accept a pass from replacement Julien Arias to finish, although Plisson was unable to convert either effort.
Bath replacement Michael Claassens stretched out to touch down for Bath's second try with 15 minutes remaining, whilst Plisson demonstrated his ability with the boot with a quite extraordinary drop-goal from the halfway line.
Bath managed third try as Jack Cuthbert barged over in the corner to add a touch more respectability to the scoreline, but Stade had the final say as sub Jerome Porical's penalty crept over via the crossbar.