Northampton and Leinster will have to go some to match that drama in
their Heineken Cup final tomorrow,
but hopefully they can improve on the quality of tonight's fairly scrappy affair though. You can see how it all pans out on this very website, with audio commentary coming from 5 Live. In the meantime,
Bryn Palmer's full match report
is up now for your delectation.
Nic on Twitter:
"YES!!!!!!! What a result... @QuinsRugbyUnion won the cup and I thought it was all over!! "
Stade and England flanker James Haskell
had a busy, effective game, but he admits his eagerness left him out of step with his team-mates and allowed Marler space for that winning try. "I have got a horrible feeling when I look back at the tape I am going to find that it was my fault for coming out of the line in that last play," he said.
Quins captain Nick Easter
adds his thoughts: "It is a credit to the guys' never-say-die attitude. It is difficult to keep the head up when they are playing very controlled pick-and-go rugby and going for drop-goals, but we took probably our only chance of the second half."
Status Quo blaring from the Cardiff City Stadium stadium PA and the bubbly is flowing as Ugo Monye takes a sip from the silverware. A place in the Heineken Cup next season is the most valuable thing for the club though.
Stade are very aggrieved with the way the final scrum was set and surrounded referee George Clancy at the final whistle. By contrast, jubilant scenes from Quins and they earned every last drop of the champagne they will doubtless be enjoying tonight.
Match-winner Nick Evans talking to Sky Sports:
"It is a long time since 2004 and I am so pleased for the guys and the fans. We have done it all year, we never give up, that is the character of the side. It wasn't pretty but we scored more points than they did and that is what matters."
FULL-TIME: HARLEQUINS 19-18 STADE FRANCAIS 80 mins:
Stade have a scrum just over the Quins' ten-metre line and this is do or die now for them now. Dupuy ignores Beauxis and spins wide towards Bastareaud, but the ball goes to ground.
Cool as a cucumber, Evans
splits the posts from a tricky angle and the great escape from under the Stade cosh is very much on.
CONVERSION: HARLEQUINS 19-18 STADE FRANCAIS 76 mins:
Extraordinary. Joe Marler sniffs a gap and surges forward. Care is in close support and races free as the Stade cover close in he coolly clips the ball into the path of winger Camacho who scoops it off the deck and dives over. Pressure on Evans now.
TRY: HARLEQUINS 17-18 STADE FRANCAIS 74 mins:
The converted try is what Quins need and they are showing some adventure now. Turner-Hall charges into the Stade ranks.
It is an absolute monster from Argentina full-back Martin Rodriguez.
Francois Steyn-esque. Quins kick for touch off a retreating scrum, miss by a fraction and a punished with a thumping drop-goal from out near half-way.
DROP-GOAL: HARLEQUINS 12-18 STADE FRANCAIS 71 mins:
Arias dances out of his own 22 and briefly Quins are stretched before they mob the winger on their own 22. They hold out for a scrum, but they are under severe pressure at the set-piece now.
Julien Dupuy is blown up for a crooked feed to allow Evans to boot downfield, the ball comes straight back as he misses touch and the chasing Tom Palmer's attempted tackle on Brown is high. Quins keep the discipline though and a potential flare-up is defused.
Painfully close now, as Evans
composes himself and pops it over.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 12-15 STADE FRANCAIS 64 mins:
Quins have rallied though and Evans
has another chance as Stade hands intrude on a ruck. Closer in this time...
Missed, and that could be crucial by the end of this match. Evans'
effort strays narrowly wide as he strains for the extra distance.
Camara is favourite for a kick ahead but it there is a bit too much heat on it from a Stade point of view. Beauxis then drops a regulation pass from Dupuy though and good work from Camacho and Lowe earns Evans a penalty chance from just inside the Stade half.
It is 12 unanswered from the French as Beauxis
knocks it over. Never mind gritty defence, Quins need to get a hold of the ball asap.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 9-15 STADE FRANCAIS 56 mins:
The Quins scrums is spinning and Easter is snaffled by Haskell as he attempts to pick up at the back. Turnover for the French and they drive forward from the next scrum, forcing a penalty as the Quins front row pop up.
Quins catch their breath as the water comes on during a break in play. They are on the ropes here, in dire need of both possession and territory.
Johnson finds himself in a bit of space, but it is only brief respite for Quins with all the pressure coming from the French. Beauxis chances his arms with another drop-goal but it is horribly skewed, not a patch on Bastareaud.
A bit of finesse to go with all that power from Bastareaud
as he drops into the pocket, hails Dupuy, gathers the pass and drops a high and handsome goal.
DROP-GOAL: HARLEQUINS 9-12 STADE FRANCAIS 46 mins:
Quins are having to weather a storm as Bastareaud is giving George Lowe a (probably literal) headache with some forthright running.
Easy for Beauxis
and we are level with just over 30 mins to go.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 9-9 STADE FRANCAIS 44 mins:
Quins almost gift Stade a try as Danny Care forces the pace with a quick tap, but his long pass escapes Easter's grip with opposite number Parisse lurking. The England number eight is not having the best of starts to the second 40 and gives away a penalty as he hits the side of a ruck right in front of the posts.
Straight off first phase ball, Mathieu Bastareaud steps off his left foot and draws in Evans and Turner-Hall before flipping the ball to fellow centre Bousses, but the pass is marginally forward as the Frenchman lines up Mike Brown as the last line of Quins defence.
Back under way and Easter spills the Stade kick-off to put Quins under immediate pressure.
Iain on Twitter:
"Would be good if either side opened up a bit. Both have loads to offer when playing with a bit of freedom."
A really gritty last quarter from Quins there and they head into the dressing rooms with those noses in front. Certainly their performance seems to have got up some of the French forwards nostrils. Pascal Pape and Chris Robshaw exchange some pleasantries while getting a good grip of each other lapels after the referee's whistle. Soon calmed down though as their team-mates pull them apart.
HALF-TIME: HARLEQUINS 9-6 STADE FRANCAIS 38 mins:
Quins are more than holding their own around the fringes driving the Stade runners with some "offensive defence" as those guys with the clipboards and ear-pieces call it. Ollie Kohn turns over the ball with a supreme rip.
Haskell puts in a crucial big hit on Mike Brown as he runs a nice angle onto George Lowe's off-load.
does the business and probably could have back-heeled it over.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 9-6 STADE FRANCAIS 32 mins:
The big Stade forwards pop the ball around amongst themselves in the loose and suddenly Parisse is baring down on the line only to be denied by Nick Evans' brave tackle. But Quins concede a penalty right in the shadow of the posts seconds later.
Julien Dupuy squanders an opening as he grubbers for winger Arias when a pass back inside would have served him better. His opposite number Danny Care then dummies and goes off a quick tap and links up with Lowe, but the centre is pinged rather harshly as he scrambles to his feet from a tackle. Pressure relieved for Stade.
The gap is up to six as Evans
slots to maintain his 100% record. Jordan Turner-Hall is then within a whisker of taking a crash ball with the Stade defence looking thin in front of him.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 9-3 STADE FRANCAIS 24 min:
First genuine clean break of the game from the backs as Mike Brown glides through a gap. The ball is recycled and Nick Evans probes down the left wing before Stade winger Djibril Camara is penalised for slapping down a Quins pass to give the Kiwi another shot at goal. 36 metres out.
An ambitious drop-goal attempt from Martin Rodriguez drops well short for the French side. A bit desperate that.
Hooker Joe Gray gambles over the top of a shortened line-out and flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu takes it safely as the Stade back-row fly up in his face. Mike Brown blasts the ball back up to the half-way line and safety.
James Johnston emerges from the midst of a rolling maul and charges down to the Stade 22. The Samoan prop spills the ball though as Parisse finishes a tackle that former Leicester man Julien Dupuy starts. Stade return fire with a big kick back downfield and suddenly Quins have a tricky line-out ten metres from their own line.
Both side struggling for a bit of continuity and penetration at the moment. As if to prove the point, Beauxis tries a chip that is too clever by half and watches disconsolately as it floats harmlessly into touch.
James Haskell canters towards the tryline after stripping the ball from England team-mate Easter, but the referee's whistle brings his run to an end.
Two from two from former All Black Evans
and the Quins flags are fluttering.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 6-3 STADE FRANCAIS 14 min:
A prodigious boot from Beauxis
levels it up, but Quins are straight back up the other end via an overthrown Stade lineout and Evans has a chance to re-establish the advantage.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 3-3 STADE FRANCAIS 10 min:
But Quins infringe, Parisse points stickswards and the kicking tee is delivered to Beauxis via a remote-control dump truck in Stade colours.
Mathieu Bastareaud goes on his first serious rumble and Nick Evans throws himself at the big centre's ankles which is enough to slow him down.
Beauxis puts up a bomb high into the evening sky and although Camacho and Robshaw both fail to get to grips with it, Tom Palmer knocks on the loose ball for Stade.
6 min:Nick Evans
thumps it through sweet and true and he will need to keep that up with Lionel Beauxis opposite him.
PENALTY: HARLEQUINS 3-0 STADE FRANCAIS 5 min:
Penalty to Quins as Parisse is blown up for holding on in the tackle and Nick Evans is going to take a pot-shot from a good 40m out and wide on the left.
Midfield grind as George Lowe and Gonzalo Camacho both struggle to make yards for Quins as Nick Evans looks outside for the first time.
England internationals Tom Palmer and James Haskell both get their mits on the ball early doors as Pascal Pape makes big yards through the Quins guards before being hauled down to the turf. Solid, physical start from the French.
The pink Stade flags are slightly outnumbered by the Quins' quarters in the Cardiff City Stadium stands I would say. Chris Robshaw leads out the English side, while Sergio Parisse does the honours for the French.
We are close to kick off and just in the nick of time I have fixed the auto-refresh. Apologies everyone, F4 fingers at ease. The guys on 5live Sports Extra would never commit such a basic error. Their commentary is available for you now in the top right-hand corner. UK users hit refresh just the once more to get that plugged for yourselves.
DJ via text:
"This will be close. Stade need it more, Quins will be more composed if it's tight"
Hang on for the science bit though, because all might not be lost for tonight's losers. If Northampton win on Saturday, Harlequins will be elevated into the Heineken Cup as a seventh English side.
As well as
a natty piece of battleware
there is a place in the next season's Heineken Cup for the winners. As both sides have fallen short of the qualifying spots in the Premiership and the Top 14, that is a valuable stamp in the passport.
Get your pre-match predictions, mid-match observations and post-match debriefs to me via text on 81111 if you are in the UK, and on hashtag #5LiveRugby on Twitter wherever you are.
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