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Connacht Rugby will have to overturn history to claim a win at Stade Francais Paris in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday.
While the Irish province won their only previous encounter with their French opponents in this competition, 36-9 in Round 1 earlier this season, they have had less success against French sides overall – losing six of their seven visits to the country in the competition.
The Pool B match at Stade Jean Bouin, which kicks off at 2pm local time (1pm UK and Irish time), is being televised live on beIN SPORTS and BT Sport.
Other key facts:
- Stade Français have won 35 of their 36 home games in the pool stage of the Heineken Champions Cup, their only defeat coming against Harlequins in 2008/09 (10-15).
- Connacht have lost their last seven away games in the Heineken Champions Cup, but the last three defeats came by margins of fewer than seven points.
- Stade Français have won eight turnovers per game on average in the Heineken Champions Cup in 2021/22, a joint high alongside Racing 92 and Union Bordeaux-Bègles, while only Scarlets (1.0) have averaged fewer turnovers than Connacht (2.3).
- Connacht fly-half Jack Carty has made 51 kicks in play in the Heineken Champions Cup this season. No other player has made more than 38.
If there’s one thing this group is better at than anyone, it’s bouncing back.
One game left. One win from history.
On to Paris ✊💚 pic.twitter.com/kimczh87EM
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) January 15, 2022
Connacht head coach Andy Friend: “All we know is we have to turn up to Paris on Sunday. We need to play our best brand of rugby and if we do that and we put out a really good performance, I truly believe we can win and that’s all we’re going to focus on.”
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Joris Segonds last-gasp penalty kept Stade Français Paris’ hopes of Heineken Champions Cup qualification alive in a thrilling 37-31 victory over Connacht Rugby.
The TOP 14 side needed a bonus point win, plus a six-point margin of victory, to overtake Cardiff Rugby in the Pool B standings – Adrien Lapegue (2), Ngani Laumape, Kylan Hamdaoui and Ryan Chapuis notching for the hosts to complete their end of the qualification bargain.
They had to overcome the red card of hooker Tolu Latu to earn victory against a Connacht side who scored four tries on their own – Alex Wootton, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jarrad Butler on target.
What a finish in Paris 😱@SFParisRugby fight back against Connacht with 14 men to win by the exact margin they needed to put themselves in the top 8 👊#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/3TzGaut9QY
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 23, 2022
Wootton opened the try scoring in the sixth minute of the contest – a delectable crossfield kick was fielded by the former Ireland U20 international before he powered through three tacklers to dot down.
The Irish province thought they’d notched a second moments later, Wootton the catalyst again as he broke through the Stade Français defenses before offloading to Blade – unfortunately for Connacht a Farrell obstruction chalked off the try.
A Nicholás Sánchez penalty on 16 minutes was followed almost instantaneously by the hosts first try of the afternoon. A well worked lineout saw scrum-half Will Percillier unleash a blindside offload to Lapegue who crossed the whitewash for the first of his two tries.
Jack Carty returned fire with a penalty for Connacht to level things at 10-10 before Stade Francais had a try of their own chalked off. Léo Barré dotted down, hwoever Tolu Latu committed a dangerous clear-out, earning a yellow card.
Connacht took immediate advantage with the extra man as Caolin Blade notched before the break – a darting run off the back of a collapsed maul proved fruitful for the scrum-half.
Despite starting the second half with 14 men, Stade Français crossed the whitewash in the opening minutes of the second half. A Sánchez break, coupled with an offload to Ngani Laumape, allowed the latter to dot down.
The hosts joy was short lived, however, as the returning Latu launched an expletive-laden tirade at referee Wayne Barnes earning a second yellow card and an early bath.
Connacht scored their third try of the contest two minutes later, Farrell finishing in the corner after the Irish moved the ball swiftly through the hands in a pulsating move.
The under-manned hosts would not give up, however, as Hamdaoui crossed the whitewash for Stade Français’ third try of the afternoon soon after.
Lovely hands from @connachtrugby for their BP 👏👏#HeinekenChampionsCuppic.twitter.com/BLHKIDpQ3p
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 23, 2022
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued to provide entertainment as Butler seemingly put the game beyond doubt as he touched down under the posts – a delightful one-two with pack-mate Conor Oliver earning the bonus point for Connacht.
Stade Français pulled within four points with ten minutes remaining, Ryan Chapuis powered through to score the bonus point try in the corner – Connacht’s Oliver earning a yellow card in the buildup.
With the game 14 v 14 for the remainder of the contest, Stade Français took the lead with five minutes to go, Lapague scoring his second of the afternoon to finish a sweeping move from the hosts.
Segonds then rifled a long range kick against the post with a minute remaining – seemingly costing the TOP 14 outfit a shot a qualification, but a second kick as time expired was converted to maintain Stade Français hopes of a round of 16 spot.
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