Late Stade try knocks Chiefs out in Challenge Cup

A try from Samoan star Paul Williams two minutes from time saw Stade Francais edge English club Exeter 22-17 on Thursday to advance to the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup.


Stade, last year’s losing finalists, ultimately proved too strong for a plucky Exeter side despite failing to dominate the game.


Exeter fly-half Ignacio Mieres opened the scoring with a 20th minute penalty after the home side strayed offside at a ruck.


The Argentinian missed his second effort but then saw counterpart and compatriot Felipe Contepomi sin binned soon after for reacting to a bone-crunching hit by hooker Chris Whitehead with a wild, swinging punch.


Mieres kicked the ensuing penalty, but Julien Dupuy clawed one back for Stade after a reckless tackle by Exeter winger Gonzalo Camacho.


The respective kickers then traded penalties to leave the half-time score at 9-6 and the game delicately poised with each team failing to find their rhythm.


Stade came out firing on all cylinders in the second period, a dink through from Contepomi eluding the covering Phil Dollman but falling nicely for Djibril Camara, the full-back stretching to dot down in the corner for the game’s first try.


Dupuy missed the conversion but hit a penalty in the 48th minute, cancelled out immediately by Mieres.


The France international scrum-half was on target again to stretch Stade’s lead to 17-12.


But with 11 mintues remaining, missed tackles from Contepomi and Dupuy allowed Exeter’s Fijian centre Sireli Naqelevuki in for a soft try, Mieres missing the conversion to leave the scores tied.


The Argentinian, a former Stade player, then crucially missed a snatched drop-goal. The Parisians came roaring back up the pitch and Dupuy found a gap and sent out an inch-perfect pass to the fast-approaching Williams for the decisive try.


On Friday, defending champions and current English Premiership leaders Harlequins face a tough away game to the Jonny Wilkinson-led Toulon on the French Mediterranean coast.


Wasps host Biarritz on Saturday, with Brive entertaining Scarlets on Sunday in the final quarter-final.


Final Score Stade Francais Paris 22 (6) Exeter Chiefs 17 (9)


Scorers


Stade Francais Paris
Try – D Camara, P Williams
Penalty – J Dupuy (4)
Yellow Card – F Contepomi (26)


Exeter Chiefs
Try – S Naqelevuki
Penalty – I Mieres (4)


Attendance :4,693


Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)


Teams


Stade Francais Paris: D Camara; P Sackey, M Turinui, P Williams, J Arias (H Bonneval 73); F Contepomi (J Fillol 75), J Dupuy; R Roncero (O Milloud 51), D Szarzewski (L Sempere 44), R Slimani, A van Zyl, P Pape (A Flanquart 63), G Smith, A Burban (P Rabadan 63), S Parisse [capt] (D Lyons 51)


Exeter Chiefs: P Dollman; G Camacho, B Rennie (S Naqelevuki 61), J Shoemark, M Jess; I Mieres, H Thomas (K Barrett 63); H Tui (C Budgen 80), C Whitehead (N Clark 80), C Mitchell (B Moon 36), T Hayes [capt], J Hanks (A Muldowney 61), T Johnson (B White 41), J Scaysbrook, R Baxter

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