European Challenge Cup: Stade Francais 28-25 Bath

Jules Plisson celebrates after hitting his winning drop-goal
European Challenge Cup semi-final
Stade Francais (11) 28
Tries: Doumayrou, Plisson, Pyle Cons: Plisson 2 Drop-goal: Plisson Pens: Plisson 2
Bath (6) 25
Tries: Rokoduguni, Fruean, Stooke Cons: Ford 2 Pens: Ford 2

A last-minute Jules Plisson drop-goal gave Stade Francais a dramatic European Challenge Cup semi-final win over Bath.

Bath fly-half George Ford missed the chance to level the match with an 82nd-minute penalty as the French side set up a final against Gloucester.

Geoffrey Doumayrou and Plisson tries had helped Stade to an 18-6 lead.

Semesa Rokoduguni, Robbie Fruean and Elliott Stooke crossed to put Bath 25-18 ahead, but Hugh Pyle's try levelled before Plisson's late heroics.

The Premiership side will be disappointed they let all their hard work at getting back into the match go to waste, especially as their French hosts looked visibly tired late on.

George Ford
Ross Batty comforts George Ford after the fly-half missed a late penalty

Stade had looked to be heading for an easy ride to the Murrayfield final thanks to Doumayrou's try in the corner and Plisson scoring under the posts.

But Bath, who nearly scored in the first half through Ben Tapuai, did so in the second when Rokoduguni matched up one-on-one with Hugo Bonneval on the wing, and stepped him to score in the corner.

After Ford's conversion made it 18-11, soon Bath were level when Fruean finished off a fine move from right to left and Ford converted.

The momentum was clearly with Bath and replacement Stooke found a gap through the defence from five metres out to put them in front.

And despite being dominant in the latter stages against an ailing side, the visitors allowed Pyle to get free down the wing and score from the half-way line, and Plisson thought he had finished the job with seconds left in normal time.

But, as the clock ticked past 80, Rokoduguni nearly crossed in the corner before Bath were awarded a penalty from a difficult angle, and rather than take the scrum opted to kick for the posts, which Ford knocked just wide to send the home fans into raptures.

Stade captain Sergio Parisse: " It was a great rugby match and Bath played until the end. I'm proud of the boys.

"It's been a tough season for us in the Top 14, but we're back up now and we're happy to be going to Edinburgh. We play rugby for moments like this.

"Our supporters have always been behind the team, even though it's been a tough couple of weeks. It was difficult around the team and the environment was tough.

"But the boys stayed close and the fans have been awesome. Hopefully they will be in Scotland to support us in the final."

Bath flanker Francois Louw: "It's very tough to take. It was tough at the start, we didn't begin very well. But we got ourselves into a good position with 10 to go and we thought we had it.

"We didn't in the end, but we have to be very proud of the boys for getting back into the game. I suppose it wasn't meant to be today."

Stade Francais: Bonneval; Vuidarvuwalu, Doumayrou, Danty, Camara; Plisson, Genia; Zhvania, Panis, Slimani, Pyle, Gabrillagues, Burban, Nicolas, Parisse (capt).

Replacements: Burden, Van der Merwe, Emile, Pape, Ross, Dupuy, Steyn, Arias.

Bath: Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Tapuai, Banahan; Ford, Fotuali'i; Catt, Batty, Palma Newport, Charteris, Attwood, Ellis, Louw (capt), Faletau.

Replacements: Charles, Obano, Knight, Stooke, Garvey, Cook, Priestland, Fruean.

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