Stade go top with Montpellier win

Date published: May 16 2015

Stade Français booked their place in the Top 14 play-offs, moving temporarily to the top of the table with a 35-21 win over Montpellier.

After Toulouse's defeat to Grenoble, Stade knew a bonus-point win would take them ahead of Toulon at the top of the table until the European champions' game with Clermont on Sunday.

They did just that, thanks to two tries from Julien Arias, while they also bid a fond farewell to departing stalwarts Pierre Rabadan and Jérôme Fillol.

While Montpellier opened the scoring with an early Ben Lucas penalty, Stade were soon in front when Jono Ross crossed after an initial surge from Raphaël Lakafia.

Lucas and Morné Steyn then exchanged penalties, with the hosts leading 11-9 just before the break, but Arias' try on the stroke of half-time proved decisive.

The winger finished off a fine move down the right, with some slick hands putting him away in the corner as Stade went in 18-9 ahead.

Arias went over early in the second half, albeit with the help of some generous decision-making by the TMO to ignore a clear hold on Pierre Bérard as the winger sniped from close range.

Montpellier's complaints fell on deaf ears and soon after Alexandre Flanquart grabbed the fourth try for the Parisians, with Montpellier leaving acres of space on the blindside for him to crash over.

Their bonus point seemed safe, but tries from Robins Tchale-Watchou and Yvan Watremez took it away temporarily, both forwards crashing over from close range.

Stade should have scored their  fifth try soon after, only for Meyer Bosman to blow a massive overlap by going himself. However a minute later they were finally over, with Antoine Burban crossing to send his side top.

They will travel to relegation-threatened Brive next week, knowing that a win could well secure them a semi-final place, although they are at least assured a home barrage if they miss out on the top two.

Meanwhile Montpellier's season ends with disappointment, with their hopes of playing in Europe next season all but over after their failure to pick up anything from this one.

The scorers:

For Stade Français:
Tries: Ross, Arias 2, Flanquart, Burban
Cons: Steyn 2
Pens: Steyn 2 

For Montpellier:
Tries: Tchale-Watchou, Watremez
Con: Lucas
Pens: Lucas 3

Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Jeremy Sinzelle, 13 Waisale Nayacalevu, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Julien Arias, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jerome Fillol, 8 Jonathon montague Ross, 7 Pierre Rabadan, 6 Raphael Lakafia, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Remi Bonfils, 1 Hendrik van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Laurent Sempere, 17 Sakaria Taulafo, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Antoine Burban, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Scott Lavalla, 22 Meyer Bosman, 23 Davit Kubriashvili

Montpellier: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Albert Vulivuli, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Lucas Dupont, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Benoît Paillaugue, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Kélian Galletier, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Thibaut Privat, 4 Robins Tchale-watchou, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Charles Géli, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Mickaël Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Johan Aliouat, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Jonathan Pélissié, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Pierre Bérard, 23 Pat Cilliers

Referee: Christophe Berdos