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European Challenge Cup: Stade Français shocked in Siberia

By Harry West
Victor Gresev in action at the 2011 World Cup

Krasny Yar sprung a huge surprise on the opening weekend of the European Challenge Cup season, claiming a bonus-point victory over defending champions Stade Français in Siberia.

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No side has successfully retained this trophy, and Stade’s quest to be the first got off to a disappointing start as they went down 34-29 on Saturday.

The clash started positively enough for Stade, who went ahead early on through Julien Arias’ try down the right. Azamat Bitiev was the man to score Krasny Yar’s first European points with a score from a line-out drive, but Stade were soon 12-5 ahead as Tony Ensor went over.

Seemingly stung into action, the hosts crossed the whitewash three times in a 13-minute spell, Victor Gresev stretching over before Sione Fukofuka and Andrei Mahu breached Stade’s defences.

The visitors reduced the arrears to 24-17 at the break as Terry Bouhraoua raced over and their cause was aided early in the second period as Krasny Yar’s Kirill Golosnitskiy saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on.

Stade capitalised on their numerical advantage, Arias going over for his second to level matters, but Gresev matched the former France international in doubling his tally with 13 minutes to play.

Lasha Malaguradze converted that score and then kicked a penalty, meaning Karim Qadiri’s try was only good enough to secure a losing bonus point for Stade, while Krasny Yar were left to celebrate a famous victory.

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Elsewehere in Pool 4, Edinburgh joined Krasny Yar on five points with a 37-14 win at London Irish.

There was a first-half hat-trick for hooker Joe Taufete’e in Worcester Warriors’ 30-20 win over Brive, while the other match in Pool 5 saw Connacht thrash Oyonnax 43-15.

 

In Pool 1, Newcastle Falcons overcame the Dragons 32-27, both sides earning bonus points.

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Flankly 8 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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