European Rugby Champions Cup Play-off
Wasps secure spot at Europe's top table
May 24, 2014
Wasps celebrate victory
© Getty Images
Wasps booked their place in next season's inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup thanks to a 20-6 win over Stade Francais in Paris, a result which saw them take the play-off 50-35 overall.
The Premiership side edged last week's first-leg at Adams Park 30-29 but arrived at the Stade Jean-Bouin as underdogs to complete the line-up for next season's European Champions Cup. However, Wasps did not lie down and let their intentions be known from the outset as Tom Varndell went down in the corner after six minutes.
James Haskell and Alexandre Flanquart were sent to the sin bin after Josh Simpson saw a try chalked off, but Andy Goode's kicking meant they Wasps boasted a five-point aggregate lead at the break. Dai Young's side had another try scratched off in the second half after a knock-on in the build-up to Varndell crossing but, with the hosts a man light after Antoine Burban saw yellow, Wasps soon stretched their lead as Guy Thompson completed a fine team move. Goode duly converted and then hit a 40-metre penalty after replacement Michael Van Vuuren became the latest to go to the sin bin as Stade were impressively overcome.
Wasps started Thompson at No.8 in the French capital after Nathan Hughes returned to Fiji for his wedding, which was booked before he joined the London club last year. After the creation of the seventh-placed play-off, he postponed returning to the Pacific island so he could join the squad in the first-leg against Stade, when Goode's match-winning penalty in the final act at Adams Park saw Wasps draw first blood.
Goode was again on the scoresheet within minutes of the return leg, converting after their early intent was rewarded as Varndell crossed the whitewash for the first score of the game. The fly-half failed with a penalty attempt soon after, allowing Jules Plisson to knock over a three-pointer after Wasps were penalised.
It began a period in which Stade kicked on, although they were fortunate not to fall further behind to another try. Varndell intercepted and played out wide for Simpson to run the length of the pitch before going to ground under the posts.
However, a high tackle from Thompson saw the try chalked off after referring to the television match official, whose guidance saw Haskell and Flanquart sent to the sin bin for their reaction in the deadball area. It saw the play swing in Stade's favour, with Plisson knocking over for three points moments later to reduce the deficit to 7-6 behind rather than 14-3.
Goode floated over an effortless penalty on the Stade 22 as half-time approached and, thanks to some fine defending, the Premiership club boasted a five-point aggregate lead at the break. Wasps, much improved from last week, were frustrating the hosts, with that emotion epitomised in the 54th minute as Burban was given a yellow for a late hit on Goode.
There was controversy as a lack of replays saw alleged eye-gouging against Stade waved away, with the host broadcaster quickly dragging up video of a knock-on in the build-up to Varndell scooting under the sticks shortly after. That try was scratched off but Wasps soon deservedly pulled further ahead as Haskell offloaded to Ashley Johnson, who returned favour for Thompson to dive over the line.
Goode added the extras and Stade's miserable afternoon continued as Van Vuuren was sent to the sin bin as they were again reduced to 14 men, with the fly-half sending over the penalty.
Tom Varndell skips the tackle from Waissea Vuidravuwalu © Getty Images
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