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Emirates Lions look to maintain their unbeaten record as they head to Stade Jean Bouin to take on Stade Français Paris in Round 3 of the EPCR Challenge Cup on Saturday.
Although they won 30-12 in the reverse fixture last month, securing second place in the midway point of their Pool B campaign, this will be Emirates Lions’ first match on the road so far in the competition.
And they go into the match having lost their last three matches in the United Rugby Championship, while Stade Français, who beat Benetton Rugby 24-14 in their EPCR Challenge Cup opener, have won their last three in the TOP 14.
The Pool B clash kicks off at 13:00 (UK & Irish time), and can be watched on France 3, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport, Viaplay-Premier Sports, and FloRugby.
Guess who’s back…
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 9, 2023
Emirates Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen: “We said afterwards collectively that we need to get back onto the horse and make it count next week. It’s up to us to change it so it’s important for us to prepare well next week against a very good Stade Francais side.”
Stade Francais Paris
- Wing Nadir Megdoud has beaten the most defenders in the tournament so far (12), with a competition-high five offloads.
- Stade Français have made 21 errors in their carries so far, eight of which have been being driven into touch – the most of any team.
- Equal with RC Toulon, they have made 184 tackles, a tournament low.
- Emirates Lions have the best strike rate in the opposition 22, scoring a try on 57 per cent of their entries.
- Quan Horn made two clean breaks and scored two tries in Round 2, making more metres than any other player (103).
- Jordan Hendrikse has made 809 kicking metres – more than any other player.
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EPCR Challenge Cup Pool B high-flyers Emirates Lions were made to pay for their lack of discipline in the second half of their Round 3 tie at Stade Jean Bouin on Saturday, when Stade Français Paris inflicted a 17-7 defeat on them, their first in the competition.
The South African side, second before kick-off, controlled the first half, but only led 7-0 at the break after a converted try from No.8 Emmanuel Tshituka and that failure to turn possession into points came back to haunt them after the break as the yellow cards and penalties racked up.
Stade Français fly-half Joris Segonds kicked two before being replaced by Arthur Coville, who also landed a brace, and those were supplemented by a try from replacement Laurent Panis.
Emirates Lions took control from the start and Stade Français had a lucky escape in the ninth minute when Gianni Lombardi missed a kickable penalty.
However, five minutes later the South Africans took the lead, with Tshituka plunging over wide out from a driving maul and Lombardi adding the extras.
Lombardi should have increased Emirates Lions’ lead on 26 minutes when the visitors were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, but he shanked his kick wide, so it remained 7-0 at the interval, despite the visitors’ overwhelming control and Stade having centre Alex Arrate yellow-carded in the 33rd minute.
🤜 HEAAAAVVVEEEE 🤛@LionsRugbyCo are first on the board 💪
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 14, 2023
It was a different story on the resumption as the hosts survived Arrate’s yellow card and pulled three points back via Segonds’ first penalty in the 47th minute.
Fly-half Lombardi was the first Emirates Lion to be yellow-carded in the 52nd minute and he was swiftly followed into the sin-bin by prop JP Smith two minutes later.
Stade Français duly capitalised with Segonds’ second penalty and they took the lead for the first time with Panis’ try from a driving maul on the hour.
Segonds missed the conversion, but it didn’t matter, as Emirates Lions infringed again in the 66th minute and Coville punished them.
Two minutes later, centre Henco van Wyk became the third Emirates Lion to be yellow-carded and Coville kicked his second three-pointer to leave the French club level on eight points with the visitors but a place behind in fourth.
Emirates Lions now visit Dragons RFC on January 22, a day after Stade Français travel to Benetton Rugby.