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Stade Français Paris will be hoping lightning strikes twice in the European Rugby Challenge Cup on Friday night when they travel to face Pool 3 winners Pau at Stade du Hameau, live on BT Sport.
Stade Français Paris lifted the trophy last season after being ranked No 8 following the pool stage, and are ranked No 8 again this season.
Pau, who are ranked No 1, have reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2005.
??? @mornesteyn #SPSFP #ChallengeCupRugby #SFParis pic.twitter.com/DE4Djb6b9Y
— Stade Français Paris (@SFParisRugby) March 28, 2018
Stade Français Paris wing, Julien Arias, is joint second on the all-time Challenge Cup try scoring list with 20. Tom Varndell leads with way on 25.
Four competition winners – Pau in 2000, Gloucester Rugby 2006 and 2015, Cardiff Blues 2010 and Stade Français Paris 2017 – have reached the quarter-finals.
15. Charly Malie; 14. Frank Halai, 13. Benson Stanley, 12. Jale Vatubua, 11. Julien Fumat; 10. Tom Taylor, 9. Thibault Daubagna; 1. Thomas Domingo, 2. Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 3. Malik Hamadache , 4. Daniel Ramsay, 5. Dave Foley, 6. Ben Mowen, 7. Sean Dougall, 8. Steffon Armitage
16. Lucas Rey, 17. Jamie Mackintosh, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Julien Pierre, 20. Paddy Butler, 21. Julien Tomas, 22. Antoine Hastoy, 23. Florian Nicot
Stade Français Paris line-up
15. Morné Steyn; 14. Marvin O’Connor, 13. Théo Millet, 12. Jimmy Yobo, 11. Djibril Camara; 10. Jules Plisson, 9. Clement Daguin; 1. Zurabi Zhvania, 2. Remi Bonfils, 3. Ramiro Herrera, 4. Mathieu De Giovanni, 5. Hugh Pyle, 6. Charlie Francoz, 7. Matthieu Ugena, 8. Willem Alberts
16. Lucas Da Silva, 17. Heinke Van der Merwe, 18. Paul Alo Emile, 19. Paul Gabrillagues, 20. Sergio Parisse, 21. Charl McLeod, 22. Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, 23. Jonathan Danty
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Pau continued their 100 per cent record in this season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2005 – but only after thwarting a sensational comeback from defending champions Stade Francais Paris 35-32.
- It all looked so easy as the Pool 3 winners and top seeds stormed into a 27-7 lead after 38 minutes, but Stade, buoyed by a try in first-half injury time, fought back determinedly to win the second half 18-8 before running out of time.
- Pau, the 2000 winners, got the perfect start when Fijian centre Jale Vatubua sped over for a try converted by Tom Taylor in the fourth minute.
- However, Stade, the bottom seeds, hit back to level almost immediately with a try by Clement Daguin converted by Jules Plisson.
- For the next half-hour, though, it was one-way traffic as centre Benson Stanley and scrum-half Thibaut Daubagna scored tries for Pau that were converted by Taylor, who also landed two penalties.
- But, as the clock ticked into the red for half-time, Stade grabbed a crucial try through flanker Charlie Francoz that was improved by Plisson to make the interval score 27-14.
- When Plisson kicked a 42nd minute penalty and converted a spectacular 70-metre interception try by flying wing Djibril Camara, it was 27-24 and game on.
- However, Pau hooker Quentin Lespiaucq and Stade wing Marvin O’Connor swapped tries, and Taylor and Plisson exchanged penalties to end Stade’s hold on the trophy.
- Pau now play either Edinburgh Rugby at Stade du Hameau, or Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff Arms Park in the semi-finals on 20/21/22 April.
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