Jerome Porical kicked 20 points as Stade FranÃ§ais claimed a dramatic 25-23 victory over Perpignan in their Challenge Cup semi-final.
Full-back Jerome Porical kicked 20 points against his former team as Stade FranÃ§ais claimed a dramatic 25-23 victory over Perpignan in Friday's Challenge Cup semi-final at Stade AimÃ© Giral.
Porical landed his sixth penalty of the night in dying moments to put the Parisians in front for the first time since the eighth minute in a gripping clash on the Catalan coast.
It was his second effort from over 50m and needed help from both the upright and the crossbar to crush the hopes of the fans that once chanted his name.
Stade FranÃ§ais will now meet either Leinster or Challenge Cup holders Biarritz in the May 17 final in Dublin.
It was a remarkable turnaround in a match that seemed Perpignan's for the taking in a white-hot atmosphere at the 'Bull Ring'.
Perpignan outscored their French rivals two tries to one and led 13-9 at the interval but were never able to open a decent gap as Porical's lethal boot kept the visitors within striking distance.
USAP led 10-6 early in the second quarter thanks to tries from hooker Guilhem Guirado and fly-half James Hook, who missed both conversions from wide out.
Former Perpignan stalwart Porical kicked his third penalty as the first half drew to a close to narrow the gap after Hook had followed up his try with a three-pointer.
Hook put the hosts further ahead shortly after the restart but Stade struck straight back as flank David Lyons crossed after a decisive pass from…non other than Porical, who also converted to level the scores at 16-all.
The opposing place kickers traded shots at goal in the final half-hour – with Hook missing three – but two long-range penalties in the closing moments of the game from Porical sealed victory for 2011Challenge Cup runners-up.
With both sides out of contention for a top six finish in the French league, this clash took on vital importance as the Challenge Cup winners qualify for the Heineken Cup next year.
Perpignan, who are seventh in the Top 14, could still play in the top flight next year, as long as either Clermont or Toulon win that competition.
Tries: Guirado, Hook
Pens: Hook 4
For Stade FranÃ§ais:
Pens: Porical 6
Perpignan: 15 Gavin Hume, 14 Farid Sid, 13 David Marty, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Adrien Plante, 10 James Hook, 9 Florian Cazenave, 8 Henry Tuilagi, 7 Luke Narraway, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Dan Leo, 3 Kisi Pulu, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Romain Terrain, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Jerome Schuster, 19 Guillaume Vilaceca, 20 David MÃ©lÃ©, 21 Sione Piukala, 22 Joffrey Michel, 23 Bertrand Guiry.
Stade FranÃ§ais: 15 Jerome Porical, 14 JÃ©rÃ©my Sinzelle, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Hugo Bonneval, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Sergio Parisse , 7 Pierre Rabadan, 6 David Lyons, 5 Scott Lavalla, 4 Gerhard Mostert, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Laurent Sempere, 1 Aled de Malmanche.
Replacements: 16 Remi Bonfils, 17 Stanley Wright, 18 JÃ©rÃ©my Becasseau, 19 Anton van Zyl, 20 Antoine Burban, 21 Nicolas Bezy, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Julien Arias,
Venue: Stade AimÃ© Giral, Perpignan
Referee: George Clancy