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Leeds fall short against Stade Leeds fall short against Stade

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Leeds fall short against Stade

Leeds Carnegie could not turn a half-time lead against Stade Francais into an Amlin Challenge Cup win as the French outfit rattled up the scores in the second half to run out 22-13 winners.

With both teams winning their first round matches this clash at Headingley Carnegie was crucial to see who would top Pool 4 at the end of the first fortnight of European action. And with Leeds leading 10-3 at the break with two tries to their name it looked like it would be the Yorkshiremen. But Stade rallied, with Martin Rodriguez's accuracy at the heart of their eventual success.

Leeds boss Andy Key and first team coach Neil Back welcomed back several first teamers while England hopeful Tom Palmer returned to his old stomping ground in Stade's colours.

But it was the former pair who were smiling first as Leeds took the lead with 15 minutes on the clock. Luther Burrell's early missed penalty did not dull the hosts' ambitions and when James Tincknell broke through the middle the platform was set for the try, scored by Argentine prop Juan Gomez from close range.

Warren Fury was off target with the conversion, but when Stade scrum-half Benjamin Tardy was sin binned Leeds had a man advantage. They made the most of the extra space with Hendre Fourie touching down. Fury missed with the extras again but Leeds nevertheless had a handy 10-0 lead.

The kicking woes were prompting Leeds to run penalties and they went in search for a third try. However Stade pulled three points back before half-time from Rodriguez, and when the full back slotted two more penalties in the opening minutes of the second half the match was very much in the balance.

Leeds continued spreading the play, but the tactic backfired when a Lachlan MacKay pass rebounded off Stade replacement Mauro Bergamasco's head, sparking a foot race between French centre Guillaume Bousses and home wing Semi Tadulala to the loose ball.

The former won the battle, and his try put Stade in the lead for the first time. Rodriguez showed the value of an accurate goal kicker by adding the conversion, a spectacular 48-metre drop goal and another penalty. Despite their continued efforts in search of another try all Leeds could add to their own tally was a Ceiron Thomas penalty, and Stade left Headingley with the win in the bag.

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