Exeter Chiefs Out of Amlin Cup
Chiefs’ put out of European competition by Stade Francais.
Stade Francais 22 Exeter Chiefs 17
For Exeter the dream is over. In what was a true underdog story, the Chiefs' fairytale run of luck finally came to an end tonight. But what a game it was.
This was a team that, when rugby union went professional, were in the 4th division of English rugby and are now in their second season of top flight rugby.
Compare that to Stade Francais' five Top 14 titles and two Heineken Cup finals, and you begin to see how monumental a task Exeter had before them tonight.
Yet they came so close. You couldn't help but notice that they were the better team, in the scrum, in the mid field and in the ruck, and as one commentator said, 'Exeter just want this a bit more than Stade Francais'.
After a dominant first half in which Ignacio Mieres slotted over 9 points, the tables were suddenly turned with a Julien Dupuy penalty and an inspired chip and chase from Felipe Contepomi which led to a try, all within the first five minutes of the second half.
The thrill of a breathtaking touchdown from Sereli Naqelevuki was dampened by a missed conversion from Mieres. A silly penalty given away within their own ten meant that Chiefs found themselves drawing 17-17 after a huge kick from the excellent Dupuy.
Despite throwing everything they had at Stade in the last 10 and Kevin Barrett coming with two metres of the try line it quite simply wasn't enough and Dupuy threw a huge pass to allow full-back Paul Williams to cruise in unopposed in the corner.
Stade's performance was error riddled and weak, but their 585 caps succeeded in creating moments of brilliance which reminded us of the club's glory days.
Exeter, marvellous as they were, just couldn't hold back a team which boasts some of the greatest players in the world.
Rob Baxter has done a marvellous job with the side and they are really starting to prove their pedigree, both at home and in Europe. Stade know that Exeter were the better team tonight, as it was only through Julien Dupuy that they managed to bag their place in the semi finals.
The Chiefs must be well aware of this: who knows, in a year's time, they could be toppling Stade in a Heineken Cup play-off.
Man of the Match: Julien Dupuy. He has his critics, but by God the man can kick. The glue that held Stade together; played the ref like a whistle at the scrums and just kept knocking them over.