Try-scoring Top 14 debut for Jackson but Perpignan thumped by 14-man Stade

IRISH OUT-HALF PADDY Jackson scored a try on his Top 14 debut this afternoon, but his Perpignan side suffered a heavy loss in the opening game of the campaign against 14-man Stade Francais.

Jackson’s Perpignan suffered a heavy loss. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Jackson started in the number 10 jersey for his new club after moving to France over the summer.

The 26-year-old crossed in the second half but it proved to be a mere consolation as Stade romped to a 46-15 victory at Stade Aime Giral, despite the dismissal of Sergio Parisse shortly before the interval.

The Italian number eight was harshly shown red on 36 minutes for leading with the elbow in contact, a decision which offered newly-promoted Perpignan a lifeline, before Jackson scored one of two quickfire tries early in the second period.

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But Stade — with Paul O’Connell in the stands — responded impressively and scores from fullback Kylan Hamdaoui and Piet van Zyl put the result beyond doubt, with the visitors clinching a bonus-point win.

It was a powerful start to Stade’s new era under coach Heyneke Meyer as his side ran in six tries in total.

Stade struggled badly last season, finishing down in 12th place and only avoiding relegation on the final day of the campaign, but, financed by Swiss billionaire Hans-Peter Wild, they have the biggest budget in the French top flight.

The capital-city side raced into a 29-3 half-time lead as they laid down a marker to their title rivals at the earliest opportunity.

Source: Top Rugby/YouTube

France flanker Sekou Macalou and Hamdaoui both scored two tries for the visitors, with Fijian international Waisea Nayacalevu and scrum-half van Zyl also touching down.

Former Springbok out-half Morne Steyn kicked 16 points as Stade sealed a comfortable victory.

Elsewhere, Toulouse snatched a 16-16 draw at last season’s surprise semi-finalists Lyon, as France fullback Yoann Huget grabbed a crucial second-half try before Thomas Ramos’ late drop goal sealed two points.

Clermont’s bid to put last year’s dreadful title defence got off to the perfect start, as former All Black Isaia Toeava and Alivereti Raka both crossed twice to help them crush Agen 67-23, scoring 10 tries in total.

Scottish scrum-half Greig Laidlaw also kicked 17 points for Franck Azema’s men, but it is their away form that they will need to improve on from last term after winning just one of 14 games on the road in 2017-18.

Bordeaux-Begles powered past Pau 41-19, while La Rochelle narrowly managed to hold off Grenoble as a 75th-minute score from Jean-Charles Orioli secured a 28-21 victory.

The big game of the opening weekend is on Sunday, as reigning champions Castres launch their title defence against Montpellier in a repeat of May’s final.

Later, Simon Zebo will make his bow in the league for Racing 92 as they face Toulon.

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