The visitors were well worth their 7-0 halftime lead but were unable to resist a second half fightback by the French team, although their task was eased by the Emirates Lions as they collected yellow cards via flyhalf Gianni Lombard, prop JP Smith and centre Henco van Wyk.

To rub salt in their wounds Stade Francais kicked a fourth penalty in the half, with two minutes remaining, to deny the Lions what would have been some reward in the form of a losing bonus point.

The Lions had begun so well – playing in an alternate royal blue and yellow jersey with black shorts and socks – and were well worth their halftime lead and would only have been disappointed that it wasn’t by a greater margin than seven points (7-0).

The only score of the half came from a maul try – completed by No 8 Emmanuel Tshituka – converted by flyhalf Gianni Lombard in the 15th minute, but the latter also missed two other penalty attempts, the second a snatched affair from 22 metres and pretty much straight in front.

Scrumhalf Morne van den Berg had also knocked a couple of metres short of the line in the fourth minute while JP Smith was held up over the line from another driven maul in the first half.

By contrast, Stade Francais did not have even a shot at goal to show for their first half half efforts in damp and blustery conditions on their 4G pitch. Worse, centre Alex Arrate was yellow carded seven minutes before the break for not releasing in the tackle, collecting a card after an earlier team warning for such offences.

The home side finally broke their duck seven minutes after the restart when flyhalf Joris Seconds popped over a close-range penalty when a succession of drives had been emphatically thwarted by the Emirates Lions until they were caught offside.

As the conditions worsened – the wind and rain becoming more insistent – so did things for the Emirates Lions.  Lombard was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle in the air on left wing Stephane Ahmed with 28 minutes remaining and the four-point lead under threat.

The immediate threat was averted – a driven maul from the resulting penalty was held up over the line by Van den Berg – but from the next phase of play the Lions were reduced to 13 with JP Smith joining Lombard for head contact in a tackle on flank Julien Ory.

Seconds closed the gap to one point with his second penalty from 40 metres (7-6) but two minutes later he missed with his third attempt – when the Lions conceded a scrum penalty – which would have given the home team the lead for the first time.

But it was only a lead delayed. Stade Francais were back in the Lions’ 22 within moments, forcing another attacking lineout from which replacement hooker Laurent Panis duly emerged from the maul to claim his team’s try.

Seconds was well wide with his conversion but Stade now had the lead with 17 minutes remaining (11-7) and began to turn the screw as the Lions were restored to fifteen and then reduced once more to 14 when centre Henco van Wyk was yellow carded for cynically collapsing a motoring midfield maul.

By then Stade had added three points to their lead from the boot of replacement flyhalf Arthur Colville who delivered the final nail in the Lions’ coffin with two minutes to go.


Stade Francais 17 (0) – Try: Laurent Panis. Penalties: Joris Seconds (2), Arthur Colville (2).

Emirates Lions 7 (7) – Try: Emmanuel Tshituka. Conversion: Gianni Lombard.