BATH flanker Francois Louw admitted his side's last-gasp European Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Stade Francais was a bitter pill to swallow.

Todd Blackadder's men were beaten 28-25 in Paris as George Ford missed with a penalty effort with the game's final play in a bid to send the match into extra-time.

Tries from Semesa Rokoduguni, Robbie Fruean and Elliott Stooke had seen Bath overturn an 18-6 deficit to move back ahead, but it was not enough as Hugh Pyle's 50-metre effort and the conversion and a drop goal from Jules Plisson sent Stade through to a final meeting with Gloucester.

"It's very tough to take. It was tough at the start, we didn't begin very well. But we got ourselves into a good position with 10 to go and we thought we had it," said back-row forward Louw.

"We didn't in the end, but we have to be very proud of the boys for getting back into the game. I suppose it wasn't meant to be today."

Tries from Geoffrey Doumayrou and Plisson had put Stade in control, with Bath's only response coming from two Ford penalties. But in a dramatic final quarter, three quick scores from Rokoduguni, Fruean and Stooke put a different complexion on things.

Pyle's try and the boot of Plisson then put the Parisians three points clear, though Ford had the chance to extend the match. Louw opted to go for the draw rather than take a scrum, but England fly-half Ford's kick drifted wide.

Louw said: "What happened was that the referee notified me there wasn't enough time to take a line-out. It was a straight choice between a scrum or trying to draw the game.

"An extra 20 minutes of rugby would have been tough for everyone and the way the game went, the scrum wasn't our strong point. We tried for extra-time, but it wasn't meant to be.

"There is no doubting the resilience of the guys, but our weakness is not closing games out."

Stade have lost just once at home all season, and will head to Edinburgh to face Gloucester in confident mood. After a campaign in which their proposed merger with Racing 92 was cancelled, the French side are determined to end the year with silverware.

Stade captain Sergio Parisse said: "We knew it was a semi-final and this is great for the supporters. It was a great rugby match and Bath played until the end. I'm proud of the boys.

"It's been a tough season for us in the Top 14, but we're back up now and we're happy to be going to Edinburgh. We play rugby for moments like this.

"Our supporters have always been behind the team, even though it's been a tough couple of weeks. It was difficult around the team and the environment was tough. But the boys stayed close and the fans have been awesome. Hopefully they will be in Scotland to support us in the final."