London Wasps clinched their place in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup by beating Stade FranÃ§ais 20-6 in Paris.
London Wasps clinched their place in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup by beating Stade FranÃ§ais 20-6 in Paris on Saturday.
The visitors turned in a focussed and spirited display, but were helped considerably on their way to success by a shocking succession of errors and ill-discipline, including three yellow cards.
It was number eight Guy Thompson's try that proved decisive, coming midway through the second-half and leaving Stade – who never really threatened to cross the line – with a mountain to climb.
The opening exchanges were entertaining, both sides seeking to move the ball and making good ground in doing so. James Haskell, who enjoyed an excellent outing tarnished somewhat by a silly sin-binning, created space for Tom Varndell out wide with a bruising midfield carry.
The speedster was on hand to dot down in the corner, capitalising on smart handling to scoot over; Andy Goode slammed home the conversion from out wide.
Jules Plisson replied with three points of his own from the tee, before the first spark of controversy emerged. A Wasps breakout saw Joe Simpson scamper free as he did at Adams Park in the first leg; after sliding in, Alexandre Flanquart came in late with a nasty double-knee drop on the scrum-half. Haskell, next on the scene, retaliated by bowling over the second-row.
It left Nigel Owens with plenty to sort out, as he first ruled out the try for an earlier high tackle, before showing both players a yellow-card. The resultant penalty just inside Wasps territory allowed Plisson to knock over his second kick.
That was as good as it got for Stade, as time and again they spilled the ball in contact, inexplicably looped passes out of play, and attacked with little penetration.
Goode landed his second kick of the game on the stroke of half-time, before Thompson bundled his way over on the hour mark following excellent work from back-row colleagues Haskell and Ashley Johnson; the conversion essentially taking Wasps out of sight.
A nasty late charge from Antoine Burban on Goode's midriff saw the flanker leave the field for ten minutes, and substitute Michael van Vuren suffered a similar fate for persistent breakdown infringements in the dying minutes.
Goode's place-kicking blew hot and cold, but he banged over a long-range penalty in the dying minutes to put the icing on the cake, and ensure Wasps will be playing with Europe's big boys next season.
For Stade Francais:
Pen: Plisson 2
Yellow cards: Flanquart, Burban, Van Vuuren
For London Wasps:
Tries: Varndell, Thompson
Con: Goode 2
Pens: Goode 2
Yellow card: Haskell
Stade Francais: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Waisea Vuidravuwalu, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Jerome Fillol, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Scott Lavalla, 6 Antoine Burban, 5 Pascal PapÃ©, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Laurent SempÃ©rÃ©, 1 Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Sakaria Tolafau, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Anton van Zyl, 20 David Lyons, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Julien Dupuy, 23 Meyer Bosman
London Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Will Helu, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell (c), 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 James Haskell, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wal)