Connacht blows big lead as 14-man Stade grabs victory

Connacht suffered another late collapse as the 14-man Stade Francais came down by 11 points to take a thrilling win in Paris.

The Irish province had already qualified for the knockout stage and led for most of the match thanks to attempts from Alex Wooton, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell and Jarrad Butler and 17 points from captain Jack Carty.

However, like last weekend’s game against Leicester, Connacht was unable to complete the win as they conceded 17 unanswered points in a messy final 13 minutes.

Adrian Lapegue stabbed twice for Stade, who kept their last-16 hopes alive, with Ngani Laumape, Kylan Hamdaoui and Ryan Chapuis also landing.

It looks like Connacht will face Leinster in the knockout stage unless Wasps or Exeter Chiefs take out big wins later on Sunday afternoon.

Connacht quickly found their rhythm on the 4G pitch and started applying pressure at the Stade Francais 22, and after several powerful passes, a crossfield kick from Sammy Arnold was taken by Wootton.

Alex Wooton is tackled by Ngani Laumape en route to scoring the opening try

The wing showed tremendous footwork dancing past two defenders before showing off his strength to score the opening try, which Carty converted.

Nicolas Sanchez put Stade on the board after 17 minutes with a regulation penalty after Connacht was penalized during the procedure.

Stade Francais then flexed their muscles with a move straight from the training pitch. The hosts won the lineouts and a nice inside pass from William Percillier sent Lepegue clear, with the left wing finishing brilliantly in the far corner.

Sanchez converted, but Carty tied the scores off the kicking tee before Stade was ruled out for a try. Leo Barre appeared to have scored, but the televised footage showed Australian international hooker Tolu Latu entering a ruck with no arms. The try was written off and Latu was sent to the sin bin.

Caolin Blade scored Connacht’s second try before halftime

Connacht made the most of their numerical advantage with their lively No 9 Blade crossing over from close range after a well worked out driving line-out by the visitors. Carty added the extras and Connacht held a 17-10 lead at halftime.

Stade scored within two minutes of the second half with a great break from Sanchez to open up Connacht’s defence. The Argentine playmaker pulled the last defender to transfer Laumape into the far right corner.

The French side’s hopes then suffered a major blow when Latu was sent off in the 46th minute after being shown a second yellow card for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes.

Connacht got them to pay almost immediately, with Farrell taking full advantage of a wonderful offload from Arnold to score their third try of the match.

But Stade was unwilling to throw in the towel when Hamadaou showed a weak defense to score.

Connacht, however, claimed their try bonus point shortly afterwards, with Butler rounding out a brilliant attacking move.

Stade Francais came right back to make it another game when Chapuis scored wide on a swift penalty. Substitute Joris Segonds converted, while Connacht winger Conor Oliver was sent off for a professional foul.

The hosts took the lead with just five minutes left with a long pass from Segonds that allowed Lapeque to go in for the score, and Segonds then shot a last-minute penalty over to keep their hopes alive.

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