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From Bod’s hat-trick to Sexton’s drop-goal, no opponent has defined this Irish rugby century quite like France

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Pau send Stade Francais packing as Falcons fly into semis

By Nicholas McGee
Pau celebrate against Stade Francais

Defending champions Stade Francais were knocked out of the European Challenge Cup in a thrilling quarter-final as Top 14 rivals Pau claimed a 35-32 victory.


Stade are battling against relegation from France’s top flight in the midst of a miserable campaign, but came close to pulling off a remarkable fightback against a Pau side jockeying for a play-off spot in the same division.

Pau reached the quarters as the top seed having won all six of their pool matches and they led 27-14 at the break thanks to tries from Jale Vatubua, Benson Stanley and Thibault Daubagna.

Jules Plisson converted a penalty after the restart and then converted a Djibril Camara try to cut the gap to three points, but Quentin Lespiaucq crossed to re-establish Pau’s command.

Plisson and Tom Taylor then traded penalties before Marvin O’Connor went over a minute from time for Stade, who ran out of time to complete a turnaround as Pau set up a semi-final clash with either Edinburgh or Cardiff Blues.


Newcastle Falcons’ excellent season continued as they breezed into the semis with a 25-10 win over Brive.

The Falcons, who are fourth in the Premiership as they bid to secure a place in the play-offs, edged the first half at Kingston Park before finding another gear in the second to progress to the last four.

Fly-half Toby Flood struggled with the boot, knocking over just one conversion, but set up three of Newcastle’s four tries in an instrumental performance.

A pair of magnificent passes saw him lay on a brace for Alex Tait as the Newcastle’s own 100 per cent record in the competition was maintained, with Connacht or Gloucester awaiting them in the semis.



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