Champions Cup play-off semi-finalStade Francais (10) 46Tries: Vuidarvuwalu, Melikidze, De Giovanni, Macalou (2), Panis, Daguin Cons: Steyn 4 Pen: SteynCardiff Blues (14) 21Tries: Cook 2, N Williams Cons: Anscombe 3
Cardiff Blues will play in the European Challenge Cup for the third consecutive season after a Champions Cup play-off semi-final defeat at Stade Francais.
Blues raced into a lead with tries from Macauley Cook and Nick Williams before the hosts hit back with Waisea Nayacalevu touching down.
Wing Sekou Macalou crossed twice in the second half for Stade.
The hosts also ran in tries from Giorgi Melikidze, Mathieu de Giovanni, Laurent Panis and Clement Daguin.
Cook scored a consolation second try for the visitors at Stade Jean Bouin.
Stade go on to face the winners of on 26 May for the right to play in Europe’s top tier next season.
But the Welsh region also counted the cost with injuries.
They lost wing Tom James ahead of kick off, replaced by Rhun Williams on the wing who himself departed early with an ankle problem.
Head coach Danny Wilson also saw backs Ray Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo and Steven Shingler depart while hooker, Matthew Rees left and his replacement Kirby Myhill did so on a stretcher.
After a tight opening quarter, with a penalty from Stade fly-half Morne Steyn the only score, Blues lit the match up.
Lock Cook scored the game’s opening try midway through the first half, finishing off a move started by centre Willis Halaholo.
Just three minutes later Halaholo broke clear again before number eight Williams forced himself over.
Stade hit back before the break with a try from powerhouse wing Nayacalevu after Steyn breached the visitors’ defence.
The hosts started the second half brightly with replacement prop Melikidze forcing his way over from close range to put his team ahead.
Stade then went up a gear, breaching the Blues defence before replacement centre De Giovanni crossed out wide to extend their lead.
Wing Macalou finished off a fine move to score Stade’s fourth before Blues hit back with Cook crossing for his second after latching on to a Gareth Anscombe chip through.
Macalou crossed for his second before tries for replacements Panis and Daguin sealed a comfortable victory.
Cardiff Blues coach Danny Wilson told BBC Radio Wales: “It’s been a long, hard season and that was certainly a brutal way to end it. The number of injuries we had in that game made it pretty tough.
“We scored some good tries and played some good rugby, but ultimately we didn’t have the firepower to deal with what Stade had and their bench came on and added dramatically.
“Credit to the players this season, they’ve worked really hard and they’ve shown again that we can play some attacking rugby and at times we defended really well, but ultimately we came up short.”
Stade Francais: Jérémy Sinzelle; Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, Jonathan Danty, Herman Meyer Bosman, Sekou Macalou; Morné Steyn, Julien Dupuy; Heinke van der Merwe, Remi Bonfils, Paul Alo Emile, Willem Alberts, Paul Gabrillagues, Antoine Burban, Matthieu Ugena, Sergio Parisse (capt).
Replacements: Laurent Panis, Rabah Slimani, Giorgi Melikidze, Mathieu De Giovanni, Raphael Lakafia, Clement Daguin, Jules Plisson, Jonathan Ross.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Rhun Williams; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Nick Williams.
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Anton Peikrishvili, Seb Davies, Sion Bennett, Tomos Williams, Steven Shingler.
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace (England), Paul Burton (England)
TMO: David Rose (England)
Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh (Ireland)