European Rugby Challenge Cup: Stade Francais 22-38 NG Dragons

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales
Nic Cudd
Nic Cudd scored Dragons' final try
Stade Francais Paris (15) 22
Try: Bosman
Con: Steyn
Pens: Mallet 5
Newport Gwent Dragons (15) 38
Tries: Rees, T R Thomas, Amos, Cudd
Cons: O'Brien 3
Pens: O'Brien 4

Newport Gwent Dragons toppled French Top 14 club Stade Francais in Paris in a stunning European Challenge Cup Pool three triumph.

The unfancied visitors came away with a bonus point as the hosts were punished by four tries after making 14 changes.

Richie Rees, T Rhys Thomas, Hallam Amos and Nic Cudd went over for Dragons, who were level 15-15 at the break.

Meyer Bosman scored Stade's try, converted by Morne Steyne, and Vincent Mallet kicked five penalties.

The Dragons were forced into a late change before the kick-off when full-back Rhys Jones was drafted into the bench instead of fly-half Jason Tovey.

They suffered another blow early in the game when Wales lock Andrew Coombs limped off with a knee injury after falling awkwardly in the first line-out.

Angus O'Brien gave the visitors an early lead with a 40-metre penalty.

But as the much-changed French second-string side gelled, their forwards produced a series of penalties and Vincent Mallet kicked them into a 12-3 lead.

Fly-half Angus O'Brien will make his European bow for Newport Gwent Dragons
Fly-half Angus O'Brien made his European bow for Newport Gwent Dragons

The Dragons were reduced to 14 men after 26 minutes when prop Boris Stankovich was yellow-carded for a high tackle.

But the side run by former Wales flankers Lyn Jones and Kingsley Jones remarkably managed to haul themselves back into the game with two tries in the next five minutes.

Scrum-half Rees jinked over from a ruck after good approach work by Rynard Landman and Tom Prydie.

Then ex-Wales hooker Thomas popped up on the wing to score on the overlap after Lee Byrne and Matthew Pewtner had taken the Dragons back on the attack.

O'Brien's conversion made it 15-12 and Stade were relieved to level with a long-range penalty for Mallet before half-time.

The home side came out firing after the break, bringing on Springbok fly-half Steyn soon afterwards.

But the Dragons got the scoreboard moving when Amos came off the blindside wing from a line-out and shot through unopposed from 40 metres.

O'Brien converted and kicked a penalty to give the Dragons a 10-point advantage, but Stade hit back on the hour when Bosman crossed from close range for Steyn to convert.

Hallam Amos
Hallam Amos went over for Dragons' third try in Paris

However, Dragons dominated the final quarter as Stade paid the penalty for fielding a makeshift side.

O'Brien put over further penalties after 61 and 75 minutes with the home side restricted to attacking from deep, though lock Hugh Pyle almost got clear from an interception inside his own half.

Flanker Nic Cudd put the Dragons in dreamland after 76 minutes as he dived over the top of a ruck to grab the bonus-point try.

O'Brien converted for a personal haul of 18 points on his European debut as the visitors moved three scores clear.

The final whistle came with the Dragons pressing for a fifth try, with the end of the match bringing mass celebrations from the squad and coaches along with a small band of supporters.

It was a totally unexpected start to the campaign for the Welsh region who host Newcastle Falcons on Friday, 24 October at Rodney Parade (19:30 BST).


Stade Francais: Benjamin Dumas; Krisnan Inu, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Herman Meyer Bosman, Digby Ioane; Vincent Mallet, Jerome Fillol; Zurabi Zhvania, Remi Bonfils (capt), Davit Kubriashvili, Hugh Pyle, Paul Gabrillagues, Matthieu Ugena, Mathieu De Giovanni, Nicolas Garrault.

Replacements: Adrien Oleon, Sofiane Chellat, Blaise Dumas, Julien Nibert, Raphael Lakafia, Julien Tomas, Morné Steyn, Jérémy Sinzelle.

Newport Gwent Dragons: Lee Byrne (capt); Matthew Pewtner, Tom Prydie, Ashley Smith, Hallam Amos; Angus O'Brien, Richie Rees; Boris Stankovich, T. Rhys Thomas, Lloyd Fairbrother, Andrew Coombs, Rynard Landman, Lewis Evans, Taulupe Faletau, Nic Cudd.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Owen Evans, Dan Way, James Thomas, Andy Powell, Jonathan Evans, Rhys Jones, Aled Brew.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

Touch judges: Dean Richards (England), Robin Goodliffe (England)

Fourth official: Romain Bruyere (France)

TMO: Keith Lewis (England)

Citing commissioner: John Montgomery (Scotland)