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Stade Francais face nervous wait after last-gasp win over Connacht

By PA
Stade Francais' players celebrate (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)

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A last-gasp penalty from Joris Segonds kept Stade Francais’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions Cup last 16 alive as they beat Connacht 37-31 in Paris.

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The French club face a nervous wait to see if other results go their way, while Connacht had already qualified for the knockout stages.

Connacht led for most of the game but tries from Adrian Lapegue (two), Ngani Laumape, Kylan Hamdaoui and Ryan Chapuis, along with 12 points from the boots of Segonds and Nicholas Sanchez got them over the line.

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Connacht claimed two match points with Alex Wootton, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell, and Jarrad Butler crossing for tries, while Jack Carty kicked 11 points.

The visitors quickly found their rhythm and began to apply pressure in the Stade Francais 22, and after several powerful carries a cross-kick from Sammy Arnold was taken by Wootton. The wing showed tremendous footwork to dance past two defenders before showing his power to score the opening try, which Carty converted.

Sanchez put Stade on the board after 17 minutes with a regulation penalty after Connacht were penalised at the proceeding scrum.

Stade Francais then flexed their muscles with a move straight from the training ground. The hosts won the lineouts, and a lovely inside pass from William Percillier sent Lepegue clear, with the left wing finishing brilliantly at the far corner.

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Sanchez converted, but Carty levelled the scores from the kicking tee before Stade had a try disallowed. Leo Barre looked to have scored but the television footage showed Australia international hooker Tolu Latu entering a ruck with no arms. The try was chalked off and Latu was sent to the sin bin.

Connacht made the most of their numerical advantage with their lively number nine Blade sniping over from short range following a well-worked driving lineout by the visitors. Carty added the extras and Connacht held a 17-10 half-time lead.

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Stade scored within two minutes of the second half with a terrific break from Sanchez opening the Connacht defence. The Argentinian playmaker drew the last defender to put Laumape over at the far right-hand corner.

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The French side’s hopes then suffered a major setback when Latu was sent off in the 46th minute after receiving a second yellow card for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes.

Connacht made them pay almost immediately with Farrell making the most of a wonderful offload from Arnold to score their third try of the match.

But Stade were not prepared to throw in the towel as Hamadaou exposed some weak defending to score.

However, Connacht claimed their try bonus point soon after with Butler finishing a brilliant attacking move.

Stade Francais came straight back to make it a one-score game again when Chapuis scored out wide after a quickly taken penalty. Segonds converted, while Connacht flanker Conor Oliver was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.

The hosts took the lead with just five minutes to go with a long pass from Segonds allowing Lapeque to turn inside for the score, and Segonds then slotted over a last-minute penalty to keep their hopes alive.

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