Stade Francais favourites despite Andy Goode’s landing late-match winning penalty
Wasps face tough task to claim final European Champions Cup place
Wasps’ Joe Simpson celebrates after scoring a try during the European Rugby Champions Cup play-off first leg match against Stade Francais Paris at Adams Park, High Wycombe, England. Photograph: Getty Images
Stade Français 29
Wasps drew first blood in the race to complete next season’s European Champions Cup lineup when Andy Goode landed the match-winning penalty in the final act of a dramatic play-off at Adams Park.
When centre Waisea Vuidravuwalu accelerated between Elliot Daly and Andrea Masi for a soft 74th-minute try, the Premiership club looked beaten in the first of the two legs that will decide who takes the 20th and final place among Europe’s elite next season.
Pouring forward in a last-gasp attack, however, they forced Stade Français to stray offside and Goode snatched a 30-29 victory from the kicking tee as referee Johnny Lacey sounded the final whistle.
Tries from Tom Varndell, Ashley Johnson and Joe Simpson and a 15-point haul from Goode should have resulted in Wasps winning emphatically but they were punished for costly lapses in concentration. Djibril Camara and Jérôme Fillol scored tries that should have been prevented shortly after the London club had crossed themselves and even Zak Taulafo’s opening touchdown was conceded too easily.
Stade, missing Sergio Parisse, the Italy captain, because of injury, will be favourites to qualify, given they enter Saturday’s second leg in Paris with only a one-point deficit.
The club’s medical team were busy early on as first prop Phil Swainston took an elbow in the back from Taulafo and then full-back Masi was taken out in mid-air by David Lyons. Both received lengthy treatment, and Wasps, who profited from two simple missed penalties by Julien Dupuy, must have felt aggrieved when their former loosehead Taulafo then touched down from close range with an outstretched arm.
Six points from Goode kept Wasps in touch and they went close to crossing in the right corner but Will Helu just failed to collect Elliot Daly’s grubber.
Daly was proving dangerous for the Premiership club and their increasing dominance was rewarded with a Varndell try in the 27th minute.
Stade’s reply was swift and came courtesy of a passive home defence that enabled wing Camara to cross all too easily in the left corner.
The second half started with what appeared to be a try for James Haskell – but the TMO decided the ball had been knocked on at the line-out.
Stade blundered again at the set-piece seconds later and this time Goode hacked the ball on for Johnson to touch down.
The London club’s self-destructive streak was exposed in the space of three minutes when Simpson scored a length-of-the-pitch try after capitalising on good work from Carlo Festuccia and Nathan Hughes, only to then gift Stade five points moments later.
Simpson’s clearance was charged down by Fillol and the substitute scrum-half pounced on the loose ball for a key try.
It was the prelude to a thrilling climax in which Vuidravuwalu raced between a large gap in midfield before Goode intervened with the decisive act.
WASPS: Masi, W. Helu, Daly, C. Bell, Varndell, Goode, Simpson, Mullan, Festuccia, Swainston, Launchbury, Palmer, Johnson, Haskell, Hughes. Replacements: McIntyre for Mullan (63 mins), Lindsay for Festuccia (69 mins), Vea for Swainston (69 mins), Myall for Palmer (51 mins), Thompson for Johnson (65 mins). Sin Bin: Haskell (56).
STADE FRANCAIS: Bonneval, Arias, Vuidarvuwalu, M. Bosman, Camara, M. Steyn, Dupuy, Taulafo, Sempere, Slimani, Flanquart, Pape, Burban, Nicolas, Lyons. Replacements: Sinzelle for Camara (69 mins), Plisson for M Steyn (55 mins), van der Merwe for Taulafo (50 mins), Panis for Sempere (55 mins), Kubriashvili for Slimani (50 mns), Lavalla for Nicolas (2 mins).
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).