Perpignan 22-25 Stade Francais, Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final
Porical boots Stade Francais past Perpignan
April 26, 2013
Stade Francais' Jerome Porical lands one of the six penalties he kicked at the Stade Aime Giral
© Getty Images
Stade Francais booked a place in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup final with a narrow 25-22 victory over French rivals Perpignan at the Stade Aime Giral on Friday night.
Former Perpignan fullback Jerome Porical returned to haunt his old club with a superb kicking display on his way to a crucial 20-point haul that included two long-range penalties in the closing moments of the game. James Hook's 17 points looked like sending Perpignan to their first European final in 10 years but Porical held his nerve to level the scores with a huge kick from inside his own half before landing another equally impressive effort with just four minutes remaining with the help of a post and the crossbar.
The Parisians' reward is a date with either Leinster or Biarritz who are set to meet in the second semi-final on Saturday at the same RDS ground in Dublin that will play host to the final.
Stade took an early lead through Porical's boot but soon the home side were in front thanks to a try from hooker Guilhem Guirado. Farid Sid kicked ahead and Perpignan poured forward to recover possession close to Stade's try line before Lifeimi Mafi's long pass found Guirado out wide and the hooker was not to be denied from 10 metres out.
Hook missed the conversion but touched down moments later for the Catalans second try. Scrum-half Florian Cazenave and Sid combined before Hook switched the direction of the attack. Winger Adrien Plante was denied by some great defence but Hook pounced to dive over in the corner. Hook failed with his conversion attempt once again and although he was on target with a penalty soon after, Porical notched two of his own to cut Perpignan's lead to 13-9 at the break.
After the break, two more Hook penalties sandwiched Stade's only try of the game, which came thanks to former Scarlets No.8 David Lyons. Porical's outstanding balance and speed did the damage with the fullback evading three Perpignan defenders before finding the former Wallaby with a hopeful inside pass. Porical continued to make hay against his former club and slotted the conversion, before he again traded penalties with Hook, who missed three other attempts on goal in the second half.
With the clock ticking down Perpignan were six points ahead and looked to be edging into next month's final in Dublin. However, a 74th-minute penalty to draw level before the final hammer blow three minutes before the final whistle ensured it would be the 2010-11 Amlin Cup runners-up who will play for their first piece of European silverware on May 17.
Stade Francais' Sergio Parisse is shackled by Perpignan's Sona Taumalolo during a tense affair at the Stade Aime Giral © Getty Images
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