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Stade deliver in Europe as brave Gloucester battle right to the end

Gloucester 17-25 Stade Francais

By Gavin McCafferty

Gloucester let an early 10-point lead slip away to go down to Stade Francais at BT Murrayfield as they failed to impose themselves in the European Challenge Cup final.

The French side ran out 25-17 winners to claim their first European cup final success at the fifth time of asking.

Jonny May had opened the scoring against the run of play following an interception but Sergio Parisse's try helped Stade level in the 32nd minute.

Ulster legend David Humphreys' Gloucester survived a yellow card for scrum-half Willi Heinz but the French side increased their domination in the second half and tries from centres Jonathan Danty and Geoffrey Doumayrou earned them victory, with Ross Moriarty's late reply only a consolation.

Gloucester's defeat also ended their hopes of Champions Cup qualification as Northampton retain their place in the play-offs.

Stade were the only team to show signs of invention in a nervous opening spell but Charlie Sharples initially stopped their most promising break with an excellent tackle and the French side soon knocked on 10 metres out as a constant Edinburgh drizzle made its mark.

But Gloucester stunned their opponents in the 14th minute when May intercepted a move down the right side and ran almost 70 metres to go over.

Billy Burns added a conversion and soon another three points after some brilliant footwork from Tom Marshall had put the Top 14 side on the back foot.

Jules Plisson got Stade off the mark with a 45-metre penalty.

Plisson then set up their first try with a dink towards the line. Hugh Pyle managed to palm the ball back into the path of Parisse and the Italian touched down.

Stade took control but there was some respite when Moriarty burst through to cross in the 79th minute on a rare attack. But it was too little too late.

Belfast Telegraph

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