Rugby Union : Tigers lost in Brive new world

Leicester 9 Brive 28 Pens: J Liley 26, 36, 54 Tries: Viars 5, Fabre 55 Carrat 63, 80 Pens: Lamaison 4 Drop: Lamaison 73 Conv: Lamaison 80

If there is a better club side anywhere in the world than Brive then get me to them - on a litter if need be. This kind of rugby I could watch every day of the year. The European Cup final was a magnificent occasion, a stupendous contest and a celebration by both sides in a tournament which has established itself as a top-rank sporting event in record time.

It was, unexpectedly, Brive rather than Leicester who travelled the better. And with their support a fraction of the size of Leicester's but making 10 times the noise, the Frenchmen had their opponents on the rack from start to finish. The sight of Matt Poole and the hitherto untouchable Martin Johnson being cleaned out in the line-out and, worse still, the inglorious retreat of the front five as they were mauled and rolled downfield, had Leicester's supporters blinking in disbelief.

Yet even that paled into insignificance besides the scintillating running of Brive's full-back Sebastien Viars and the two centres, Christophe Lamaison and David Venditti. Time and again they sliced through Leicester's defence with their bewildering running and blistering pace. If Lamaison had kicked with anything like the efficiency of his running then the match would have been over before half-time. He missed three penalties and two conversions, but was nevertheless a massive influence.

The opening six minutes were as explosive as any seen on the ground.In that time Will Greenwood was penalised for a foolish late tackle on Viars, Lamaison kicked a penalty from 50 yards and Brive scored a try fit to conquer the world, let alone Europe. Viars thundered through a gap made for him by Gregory Kacala's charge just inside the Leicester half. The full-back tore up the left touchline and with Lamaison backing up inside and the Leicester cover closing in fast, had a fraction of a second to get his pass away. Instead he kept going and somehow, against all the odds, made it to the line.

The speed of Brive's attacks was stunning enough from the safety of the stand. What it must have been like down on the field one can only imagine. But Leicester were powerless to prevent it. They could only watch in admiration as Brive set up a series of dazzling moves, most of them involving Viars.

Leicester were crumbling before our eyes. John Liley could not even raise the siege by finding touch from a penalty inside his 22. The pressure came back on and it was only the failure of Lamaison's boot and the fallibility of Gerald Fabre's hands which kept Leicester clinging on as their defence was opened up by Brive's light cavalry.

Remarkably Leicester held on until the final quarter. They did so through the accuracy of John Liley, whose third penalty briefly gave them a 9- 8 lead 10 minutes into the second half. But victory in such circumstances and against opponents of this class would have been a travesty. To be fair to the Tigers, any side in the world would have been hard-pressed to hold Brive.

The ability of their forwards to recycle the ball at speed and the lethal pace of their backs made them irresistible. Kacala was a key figure, aiming mostly at Neil Back. The flanker never once flinched but could do little to halt Brive's momentum. Only the French could ignore the claims of so many top-quality forwards for the national side, although it has to be said that one of their most important figures was a New Zealander, Grant Ross. It was his line-out work which did more than any- thing else to shatter Leicester's confidence.

In the second half Leicester did not win one clean line-out until three minutes from the end. Brive made the most of their possession scoring three more tries, the first by Fabre from Alain Penaud's perfectly flighted miss-pass to the remarkable Viars. Penaud was another key figure, wasting no opportunity to attack but also ensuring that he kept maximum pressure on Leicester's defence with astute kicks to the corners and down the middle towards John Liley.

The two final blows were struck by Sebastien Carrat and set against Viars' try they were almost prosaic. They were nevertheless sumptuous efforts. The first was the result of combined running across field between forwards and backs and the second owed everything to Viars' pace and angle of running. Lamaison, who had earlier dropped a goal had by now rediscovered the touch, timing and rhythm of his kicking action and he calmly landed the conversion to put the gloss on what had been a collective performance of enduring brilliance.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, W Greenwood, S Potter, R Underwood; R Liley, A Healey; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth (P Freshwater, 16- 23), M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, D Richards (capt, E Miller, 70), N Back.

Brive: S Viars; G Fabre, C Lamaison, D Venditti, S Carrat; A Penaud (capt, R Paillat, 72), P Carbonneau; D Casadei, L Travers, R Crespy, E Allegret, G Ross, L Van Der Linden (Y Domi, 78), F Duboisset (T Labrousse, 58), G Kacala.

Referee: D Bevan (Wales).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions