Top seeds London Irish have been knocked out of the European Challenge Cup by eighth seeds Bourgoin in the most dramtic fashion at the Madejski Stadium
LONDON IRISH 30 BOURGOIN 32
Replacement Mattieu Nicolas scored an interception try four minutes from time to see Bourgoin into the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup.
It was nip and tuck all evening at the Madejski Stadium but quick thinking from Natuie saw him break up Irish's go forward and run in to give his side a nine point lead just when they needed it.
It set up an incredible finale that resulted in Irish to fighting their way over for a last minute score that set up a touchline conversion to force extra time.
As Delon Armitage stepped up to attempt the match-levelling conversion with the last kick of the game, it was hearts in mouths time for the home fans.
Bougoin were out on there feet at the end of a match that saw them but bodies on the line to keep their European dream alive.
But the man who had a near-flawless evening until that point, couldn't bisect the uprights and it was a famous win for the French team.
Five tries against Dax last weekend seemed to take the pressure off a Bourgoin team who have laboured in this season's French championship.
And, lead by the inventive Morgan Parra and quick thinking half pack partner Benjamin Boyet, Bourgoin had enough will and want to get over the finish line - even if they did use their get out of jail card at the end of the match.
The first half was scrappy as London Irish, who qualified as top seeds from the Pool stage, failed to impose themselves on their continental guests.
Wave after wave of attack was broken down, and were it not for Lion candidate Delon Armitage kicking his goals, they would have gone in to the break without troubling the scorer.
Points for Bourgoin came from Parra and Boyet with two penalties and a drop goal respectively.
The second half sparked to life immediately as a score from Anthony Forrest ended off a swift move that cut open Irish's shaky defence.
Back to more points from the kickers, with neither side managing to pull away. Then came the score from Nicolas and the thilling finale
The home tried to force their way through the resiliant Frenchmen, and is was patient play despite the desperate situation. they moved a 12 phase drive to the 22. Suddenly is was quick hands from the backs and Steffon Armitage backed himself to score.
After a nervous wait, the home fans' sense of hope was palpable when the TMO awarded the score.
But Then who else but brother Delon stepped up to score a match-levelling conversion with the last kick of the game, it was hearts in mouths time for the home fans.
Absolute silence before he kicked the ball, absolute shock after.
Bourgoin looked like they had won the world cup, Irish looked broken. It was the cruellest of defeats in the most dramatic of fashions.
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.