Nayacalevu scores double in win

Stade Français produced a powerful performance to hammer Grenoble 43-30 and become the first team to win at the Stade des Alpes this season.

The final score flattered the home side somewhat, and they needed a last-second penalty try to deny Stade what would have been a deserved bonus point.

The visitors dominated up front, making a mess of the Grenoble scrum, and showed their clinical side running in five tries in all.

Waisea Nayacalevu scored two in the second half, with Julian Arias, Antoine Burban and Jonathan Danty scoring the others, while Grenoble stayed in touch thanks in part to the boot of Jonathan Wisniewski.

They scored three second-half tries of their own, through Florian Faure, Alipate Ratini and the late penalty try, but overall they were well beaten.

Stade made the quicker start earning a couple of early penalties at the breakdown, with the second in kickable territory. Jules Plisson made no mistake from 40 metres out to give the visitors the lead after just three minutes.

And Plisson was at the heart of the game’s first try, making ground on the outside before feeding Jonathan Danty. The powerful centre drew the final man before releasing Arias to go over on the left. Plisson’s conversion from the touchline was just off-target, but the visitors led 8-0.

Grenoble fought back and got off the mark with a penalty from Wisniewski after Stade were penalised at a lineout.

He and Plisson then exchanged penalties before Stade scored a second try of the evening, out of nowhere, through Burban. It started with a break from prop Zurab Zhvania, who had Burban in support, and the flanker showed all his pace to race in as the Grenoble defence opened up.

Grenoble were struggling but thanks to the league’s top scorer, Wisniewski, they stayed in touch. The fly-half added a third penalty of the evening on the half-hour to make it 18-9.

The scrum was proving to be a real problem for the home side and after another penalty at the set-piece, Plisson extended the visitors’ lead to 12 points at half-time.

The home side needed to make a better start to the second half, but conceded the third try after just three minutes. It came when a ball was turned over in a ruck and Jérôme Fillol fed Nayacalevu. The Fijian had too much pace for James Hart and then swerved straight past Gio Aplon to extend the visitors’ lead. Plisson added the tricky conversion to make it 28-9.

That gave Stade a bonus point, at least temporarily, but Grenoble fought back with a try from Faure, who had made an impact off the bench. After a series of drives from the home forwards, the back row powered over, and Wisniewski’s conversion cut the deficit back to 12.

However, after a semblance of a comeback, Grenoble instantly conceded a penalty, through skipper Arnaud Héguy, who made matters worse by complaining to the referee and then his assistants and was sin-binned as a result.

Nayacalevu soon ran in his second after the Stade forwards had drawn in the home defence, but Grenoble hit back through their own Fijian flyer, Ratini, as he was given too much space by Arias on the right.

Stade’s fifth try was from another home error, as Rory Grice threw a wild pass from the back of a retreating scrum and Danty was first on it, powering over as a result.

Still, Grenoble at least had the satisfaction of denying their visitors a bonus point, with a penalty from the final play after a monstrous rolling maul.

Stade didn’t seem too worried though, and moved top of the table as a result of their third away win of the campaign.

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