Stade's power play prevails

Stade Français 39 - Gloucester 31
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The Independent Online

Eight tries and 70 points and yet this was not an award-winning omelette. There were too many missing ingredients and the overall impression is that whoever wins the Heineken Cup, it will be neither of these two famous clubs. By scoring four tries or more, Stade Français received a bonus point, leaving Gloucester to reflect on what was, even by Paris standards, a day of extravagant waste. To score 31 points here and return empty-handed warrants a footnote in history.

Eight tries and 70 points and yet this was not an award-winning omelette. There were too many missing ingredients and the overall impression is that whoever wins the Heineken Cup, it will be neither of these two famous clubs. By scoring four tries or more, Stade Français received a bonus point, leaving Gloucester to reflect on what was, even by Paris standards, a day of extravagant waste. To score 31 points here and return empty-handed warrants a footnote in history.

Nigel Melville agreed that Gloucester had blown a glorious opportunity, muttering two words - "disappointment" and "frustration". There is something not quite right about Gloucester. They are a cherry tree short of the full orchard.

Midway through the first half, James Simpson-Daniel delivered a perfect pass to Olivier Azam and the hooker found James Forrester loitering on the left flank. He strolled in, it was 8-3 to Gloucester and from the kick-off David Skrela put it long, straight to Andy Gomarsall, as he did throughout the afternoon. The Cherry and Whites ran it back, Marcel Garvey making ground before Simpson-Daniel scorched down the left wing and could have finished it himself. He passed inside to the unmarked Terry Fanolua who juggled with it and the ball was flicked on to Jon Goodridge, who juggled it and knocked on.

What should have been 15-3 to Gloucester became 10-8 to Stade, their forwards testing Gloucester in the hydraulics' department for Agustin Pichot to get over from no more than a yard. Even so, Gloucester were 14-10 ahead early in the second half when they conceded 15 points in eight minutes.

They failed to deal with a chip ahead by Skrela and Stade turned a line-out into a maul from which Sylvain Marconnet burrowed over. Skrela's conversion attempt was charged down by Goodridge, capturing an image of the tortoise and the hare. In the closing minutes Gloucester managed to release the hare, Simpson-Daniel racing in for two tries but by then the tortoise had crossed the line.

When Duncan McRae, inside his 22, threw a low pass to Henry Paul, the centre knocked on and the upshot was another try for Pichot. Marconnet also produced an action replay of his first try, if that isn't too grandiose a description of what looks like a variant on the Eton wall game. Welcome to Macho of the Day.

Stade Français: Tries Pichot 2, Marconnet 2, Mirco Bergamasco; Conversions Skrela 4; Penalties Skrela; Drop goal Skrela. Gloucester: Tries Forrester, Simpson-Daniel 2; Conversions Paul 2; Penalties McRae, Paul 3.

Stade Français: C Dominici; J Arias, S Glas, Mirco Bergamasco, Mauro Bergamasco; D Skrela, A Pichot (J Fillol 74); R Roncero (P Lemoine 47), M Blin, S Marconnet, D Auradou (capt), M James (O Brouzet 74), P Rabadan, S Sowerby, R Jechoux (C Moni 66).

Gloucester: J Goodridge (N Mauger 72); M Garvey, T Fanolua, H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; D McRae, A Gomarsall; C Bezuidenhout (T Sigley 53), O Azam (C Fortey 55), P Vickery (G Powell 69), A Eustace (P Buxton 53), A Brown, J Boer (capt), J Forrester, A Hazell (A Balding 69).

Referee: A Rolland (Ireland).

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