Blimey, that was… a bit of a dog’s breakfast actually.
Sometimes, 80 minutes can feel very short, and yet like a million years at the same time and for anyone at Cardiff City Stadium last night, whether they were in pink or multicolours, that will ring painfully true. This was a game that felt like it never truly got off the ground.
There was a sense that both teams got a bit more than they bargained for, with Quins looking out and out baffled by Stade’s blitz defence and Stade going to pot whenever Harlequins got any meaningful possession. This lead to penalty ping pong for much of the first half, meaning the pervading memory most people will take from this is the sight of a bright pink remote control car delivering kicking tees for Stade Francais and Nick Evans’ ‘birthing a cow’ method of kicking prep.
Stade were the side more out for a scalp and thanks to some inspired drop goals from Mathieu Bastareaud and Martin Rodriguez, were in the lead for most of the second half. To the relief of the amassed South London contingent, Quins finally turned up in the 77th minute and, after a fantastic offload from Manpilee Danny Care, Gonzalo Camacho went over the whitewash and without enough time (but still a bloody good effort) for Stade to truly answer the challenge, Man of the Match Nick Evans kicked it out from deep within the Quins 22 before it’d truly hit home what had just happened.
Credit must go out to the albeit small Stade Francais supporters contingent, who, while Connor O’Shea’s men celebrated like they couldn’t quite believe it, cheered, sang, and applauded like that was the result they wanted all along. Those crazy Parisians, we love them.
Manpilez Man of the match: Mike Brown. Many players will make a cursory mention of the supporters in their post match speech, Mike Brown however, took a moment, while the pressure was on in those dying minutes to not only gee up the supporters, but to truly make them feel like the 16th man.
Words by Lauren, Picture from the BBC