Despite two yellow cards for wing Josaia Raisuqe, Stade Français advanced to the Challenge Cup semi-finals after defeating the Ospreys 25-21.
The Welsh region finished the pool stages with a perfect 30 out of 30 points to qualify as top seeds, but they were stunned in the second half at the Principality Stadium after two quick tries for Stade Français from Raphaël Lakafia and Julien Arias.
This despite having Raisuqe receive two yellow cards, one in each half, the first for a stamp on Ospreys wing Keelan Giles that deserved a straight red.
Raisuqe’s actions aside Stade showed great heart on the road to a rare away victory, one week on from defeating Toulon at home, with key figures in the pack including France prop Rabah Slimani, Wallaby lock Hugh Pyle and workhorse Antoine Burban all impressing.
Expected to dominate proceedings given Stade’s poor form and away record, the Ospreys opened the scoring through a Dan Biggar penalty in the 12th minute.
Biggar thought he had scored a try soon after only for Keelan Giles’ pass to be ruled as forward by the TMO, before Raisuqe’s first yellow card. Instead it the was the visitors who scored next, through a Jules Plisson penalty.
Zurabi Zhvania was an unlikely first try scorer, powering his way over out wide for Stade, who led at the break 8-6 after Bigger knocked over a second penalty – with a third effort coming back off the post right before the interval.
Plisson was on-point with his second penalty, stretching the lead to five points, but a Josh Matavesi try pulled the Ospreys back into the contest.
Raisuqe’s second yellow card allowed Biggar to restore the Ospreys lead with a third penalty, making it 14-11, but Stade then turned the game thanks to Lakafia collecting Plisson’s well-weighted cross-field kick to score.
And all of a sudden Stade were then in the box seat after Pyle broke clear, chased down by Biggar before offloading to Julien Arias for the Top 14 outfit’s third score.
Ospreys were then left chasing the game, despite having dominated large portions of the match, and even with Tyler Ardron’s late effort the visitors clung on for a surprising victory.
Tries: Matavesi, Ardron
Pens: Biggar 3
For Stade Français:
Tries: Zhvania, Lakafia, Arias
Cons: Plisson 2
Pens: Plisson 2
Red Card: Raisuqe
Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Daniel Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Underhill, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma’afu Fia , 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 James King, 21 Olly Cracknell, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Thomas Habberfield
Stade Français: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Josaia Raisuqe, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sergio Parisse 7 Sylvain Nicolas, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Laurent Sempéré, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Laurent Panis, 17 Aled De Malmanche, 18 Paul Alo Emile, 19 Pascal Papé, 20 Raphael Lakafia, 21 Julien Dupuy, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Herman Meyer Bosman
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Tim Wigglesworth (England), Peter Allan (England)
TMO: Sean Davey (England)