Stade Francais stun La Rochelle

Date published: February 24 2019

Stade Francais produced an excellent display to boost their play-off hopes following an excellent 27-14 triumph over La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre.

Stade were superb in the first half and deservedly went into the interval 20-3 ahead thanks to Siegfried Fisiihoi and Hendre Stassen tries, while Nicolas Sanchez kicked 10 points.

Ihaia West scored the hosts’ only points in the opening period and reduced the arrears in the second half with a pair of three-pointers, but the Parisians sealed the win through Piet van Zyl, despite Jeremy Sinzelle’s late try.

After an excellent start to the campaign, Heyneke Meyer’s charges have struggled in the league recently, but they were outstanding on Saturday.

Meyer’s outfit dominated proceedings with their big carriers controlling the gain line battle, while the backs exploited the space the forwards afforded. La Rochelle’s defence was therefore exposed and it did not take long for the visitors to open the scoring as Fisiihoi crossed the whitewash from close range.

Although West responded for Jono Gibbes’ men with an effort off the tee, the Parisians were the better side in every facet of play and it was no surprise to see them extend their buffer.

Stassen showed his power to touch down before Sanchez, who produced his best display since joining from the Jaguares, added successive three-pointers for a 17-point buffer at the interval.

Gibbes’ charges improved after half-time and reduced the arrears via a brace of West penalties, but the deficit forced them to overplay and it led to the decisive score.

They attempted to move the ball from their own half and, following a knock on, Van Zyl picked up, showed impressive pace and scampered across the whitewash to effectively secure the victory.

La Rochelle looked to get back into the contest but Stade’s defence remained resilient, despite Sinzelle scoring a late consolation try for the hosts.

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Elsewhere in the Top 14, Toulouse continued their fine form following a 27-14 triumph over struggling Montpellier at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Despite containing a star-studded squad, Vern Cotter’s men have stuttered in 2018/19 and, despite Jacques du Plessis’s early try, they eventually succumbed to Les Rouge et Noir.

Ugo Mola’s men were awarded a penalty try midway through the first half before Zack Holmes and Francois Cros touched down in the second period to complete an excellent victory.

In the battle at the bottom, Perpignan were unable to build on their landmark triumph last weekend as Agen claimed a crucial 20-13 win at the Stade Aime Giral.

The Catalans took a 6-3 advantage at the break via a pair of Enzo Selponi penalties but Benito Masilevu and Leo Berdeu touched down after the interval to help Philippe Sella’s men overcome the hosts.

As a result of those four points, they increased their buffer over 13th placed Grenoble, who succumbed 47-31 to Bordeaux-Begles in an entertaining match.

Although the sides traded tries early on, with Alaska Taufa and Hans Nkinsi going over for the visitors and Semi Radradra and Eto Nabuli responding for UBB, the hosts eventually took control.

Afa Amosa, Romain Buros, Alexandre Roumat, Leroy Houston all crossed the whitewash, while they were also awarded a penalty try, meaning efforts from Junior Rasolea and Lilian Saseras were in vain.

Finally, Toulon eased their relegation concerns with a comfortable 38-11 triumph over Pau. They were in excellent form as Rhys Webb, Facundo Isa, Josua Tuisova, Daniel Ikpefan and Anthony Meric went over to complete a fine result.