The Blues crashed to their 14th away Heineken Cup defeat in a row as a playoff-hunting Stade Francais grabbed the box seat in Pool 6 in Paris in the round five encounter.

David Young’s men kept in touch in the opening 40 minutes as young fly-half Nick Macleod kicked the goals, but a first-half try double from Stade winger Julien Arias gave his side a 21-9 lead at the break. Prop Rodrigo Roncero was pushed over the try-line to score in the opening minutes of the second half and Stade never looked back in the four-tries-to-one victory.

Both teams found it hard to hold on to the ball in the opening exchanges, but the Blues were the first to put points on the board with a 20-metre penalty goal by Macleod in the seventh minute.

The lead was short-lived as they were immediately penalised at the restart. David Skrela had no difficulty in kicking the goal, and the Blues’ lineout problems from the first game between the teams in Cardiff resurfaced as they lost three consecutive throw-ins.

Macleod kicked another penalty goal, but Stade finally put some pattern into their play in the 19th minute when they built an eight-phase attack for Arias to cross in the corner.

Test star Brian Liebenberg was proving increasingly dangerous in the Stade midfield and his counter-attack won another penalty that Skrela goaled from 38 metres. The Blues kept in touch with a third Macleod penalty goal when prop Pieter De Villiers was penalised for not releasing.

The half ended with more intense pressure on the Blues’ line and Arias crossed for his second try. Skrela converted from the touchline and in injury time added a 40-metre penalty goal for a 21-9 lead at the break.

The teams swapped tries through props Roncero and John Yapp as the Blues consolidated in the last quarter, but the Welsh region turned over too much ball to be competitive.

Stade went off the boil in the fourth quarter as a bonus point was there to be taken, but replacement Olivier Sarramea scored in the last move of the game as the Frenchmen burst out of their own quarter to give the big winger the simple task of dotting down near the posts. The last-second effort leaves Stade needing only one point in next weekend’s trip to Gloucester to guarantee a quarter-final spot.