Stade Francais beat Montpellier to lead Top14

Stade Francais took the top spot in France on Friday with an 18-11 win over Montpellier
as the Paris giants confirmed their status as a rejuvenated force this season.

Stade scored two tries, one in each half, to claim a sixth win in eight games
and open a four-point lead over European champions Toulon in second place and
Montpellier in third.

“We expected a match of this level, they came with their best team,”
said Stade coach Gonzalo Quesada.

The capital city side have endured a lean time in France in the last four seasons,
finishing in eighth, 11th, seventh and 10th place.

“We can be proud of this team, we haven’t lost at home. The players know
their limits but we are riding a positive wave,” added Quesada.

“It’s not a miracle. We work in silence and in the shadows for many months.”

Last weekend, Stade moved into second spot after ending promoted Oyonnax’s
22-month undefeated home run with a 16-15 win.

Montpellier, meanwhile, had shocked European Cup runners-up Clermont 43-3 with
scrum-half Jonathan Pelissie contributing 31 points.

Pelissie resumed where he left off on Friday by kicking a fourth minute penalty
for a 3-0 lead.

But Pelissie wasn’t allowed the same freedom to exploit spaces by Stade and
after he missed another penalty and fly-off Francois Trinh-Duc had gone wide
with two optimistic drop goal attempts, the home side pounced.

Julien Dupuy levelled with a penalty before skipper Sergio Parisse was twice
involved in the move which led to the only try of the first half.

His crucial link-up play allowed winger Julien Arias to unleash a clever flicked
pass which eventually led to prop Rabah Slimani finishing off the cross-field
move.

Dupuy added the conversion for a 10-3 half-time lead at Stade Jean Bouin which
had earlier observed a minute’s silence for a worker killed in an accident at
the ground on Wednesday night.

Dupuy then succeeded with a 47-metre penalty early in the second half for a
13-3 advantage which was quickly trimmed by a penalty by Pelissie.

Stade then grabbed their second try of the night when full-back Hugo Bonneval
drew two defenders before quickly off-loading to Jules Plisson who sprinted
away to score.

The try survived a video referral for a possible knock-on before Dupuy missed
the conversion.

Stade’s 18-6 lead didn’t last too long as Trinh-Duc then went over in the corner
for Montpellier for 18-11.

The French international fly-half fell short with the conversion and Stade
comfortably played out the remainder of the game.

“It’s almost an achievement to take a defensive bonus point in the context
of the game,” admitted Trinh-Duc.

“We were less rigorous, less precise than them and they put up a very
aggressive defence.”

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