Stade Francais 15 - 13 Bath: Southwell relishes new role as Stade pull plug on Bath

BATH were dumped out of Europe as Julien Arias' brace of tries earned Stade Francais a hard-fought victory in Paris.

The West Country side needed to win to retain a chance of qualifying from Edinburgh's pool for the latter stages of the Heineken Cup or its sister competition, the Amlin Challenge Cup.

But they slipped to their fourth Pool Four defeat in five matches to stay bottom of the pile, with Arias scoring both his tries in the first half.

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Michael Claassens' try and a penalty by Nicky Little brought Bath to within two points of Stade but the hosts held on with little trouble and stay top. The match saw Scotland full-back Hugo Southwell playing at scrum-half after the French giants suffered a player crisis.

Little and Lionel Beauxis swapped penalties before Mathieu Bastareaud's kick ahead was collected by Arias, who went over for the try down the left. Former England lock Danny Grewcock riled the crowd with a late hit on Arias that somehow went unpunished.

The Stade winger recovered to deal Bath a further blow by scoring his second try in the 34th minute, finishing off a free-flowing move on the right that involved James Haskell, Southwell and Dimitri Szarzewski.

But the visitors went into the break only five points behind thanks to some laughable play by Beauxis, who attempted to fly-hack away Southwell's pass.

The full-back succeeded only in kicking thin air and Claassens fell on the loose ball for a try Little converted. The Fijian fly-half then landed a 42nd-minute penalty as Bath closed to 15-13 but it was too little too late.

Simon Taylor is set to complete his rehabilitation from a bicep injury on familiar territory next Saturday. The 30-year-old back-row player, out of action since November, returned to training with Stade Francais last week and looks likely to make his comeback against Edinburgh in Saturday's Heineken Cup clash at Murrayfield.

Stade coach Jacques Delmas is hoping to include Scotland and Lions star Taylor and is aiming to give him a 20- minute run-out to prove his fitness.

Taylor has featured only twice for the Parisian outfit this season, having also suffered a foot injury.

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He ruled himself out of Andy Robinson's Scotland squad to contest the Autumn Test series and is unlikely to be named in the initial group for the RBS Six Nations to be announced this week.