A dismal second half performance from the Lions saw them crash to a bitterly disappointing 17-7 (halftime 0-7) defeat against Stade Francais in their Challenge Cup match at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris on Saturday afternoon.
Despite a powerful first half performance from the Lions that should have given them a bigger lead at the break, they followed that up with a disgusting second half performance full of errors and indiscipline that allowed the hosts to ease back into the game and walk away with a comfortable win.
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The visitors got off to a strong start in the match and should have opened the scoring after three minutes, but after attacking into the Stade Francais 22m from a lineout, Lions scrumhalf Morne van den Berg knocked on with the try line at his mercy.
A ninth minute penalty from distance and at a tricky angle saw Gianni Lombard strike the ball poorly and miss by a distance to leave the game scoreless.
The Lions finally broke the deadlock in the 14th minute, as they set up the maul from a 5m lineout and powered over the line, with eighthman Emmanuel Tshituka dotting down and Lombard converting from touch for a 7-0 lead.
Lombard should have extended the Lions lead in the 28th minute with a penalty in front of the posts, but after the wind blew over the ball he was rushed into taking the kick and shanked the easy shot wide.
The hosts had been on the back foot for most of the half and after being warned for multiple penalties inside centre Alex Arrate was yellow carded in the 34th minute.
The Lions however couldn’t capitalise over the rest of the half as they went into the break with a lead that should have been bigger.
The home side got off to a good start in the second half and after the Lions managed to repel them a few times, they finally took the points with flyhalf Joris Segonds knocking over a 47th minute penalty.
Lombard was not having a good game and it got worse in the 53rd minute when he took a Stade Francais player out in the air and received a yellow card.
Not even two minutes later the Lions were reduced to 13-men after prop JP Smith was very unlucky after his shoulder connected with a Stade Francais players head after the player bounced off a Willem Alberts tackle into him.
This allowed Segonds to knock over his second penalty to make it 7-6 after 56 minutes and three minutes later had a chance to give his side the lead with a long range penalty in front, but saw his shot drift wide of the left hand upright.
The hosts were soon back in the Lions 22m, and after setting up a 5m lineout, mauled it over with replacement hooker Laurent Panis dotting down the unconverted score to give them an 11-7 lead after 61 minutes.
Five minutes later replacement back Arthur Coville extended the home sides lead to a converted try with an easy penalty.
The Lions dismal half continued in the 68th minute when centre Henco van Wyk became their third yellow card in a 15 minute period after cynically bringing down a midfield maul.
Salt was firmly rubbed into the Lions wounds as a 78th minute penalty from Coville pushed the hosts into a 17-7 lead, which ensured that the visitors would walk away from the match without a single point.
Stade Francais: Try – Laurnet Panis; Penalties – Joris Segunds (2), Arthur Coville (2)
Lions: Try – Emmanuel Tshituka; Conversion – Gianni Lombard