League position: 8th
European position: 1st
Stadium: Stade Amédée-Domenech
Brive have had a below par season. The old cliché of French sides not travelling well seems to be truer than ever, with the French club chalking up just 1 away league victory in their Top 14 campaign. That solitary away win came against moneybags Toulon. This, and their inability to beat the sides around them, leaves Brive dangling just above the relegation zone in eighth. Their home form, on the other hand, has been superb, suffering just the 1 defeat at the hands of Clermont Auvergne.
Brive have the chance to secure top spot in the pool against the Men of Gwent after navigating tricky opposition in the pool so far. Following the 37-16 drubbing at Rodney Parade, Brive went to Worcester and snuck away with a one point victory. Home and away victories then followed over minnows Enisei STM, before a win on French soil against Worcester last weekend. Those results leaves them top of the pool leading into this week’s contest, but the Dragons can still qualify if they win the game without Brive registering a losing bonus point.
In victory over Worcester last week, Brive utilised their driving lineout, and I would fully expect them to use this again. Brive will be looking to make it 3 from 3 in their home conquests against our proud Men of Gwent.
How to get to the stadium
From the airport
The Brive – Souillac airport is located roughly 12kms from the stadium. Our French counterparts work with ‘Car Delbos’ to provide transport for supporters to the stadium. These operate every 20/30 minutes up until kick-off. If you would like to find out about availability of this service, you can call 05.65.34.81.94 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
From the train station
Located a little more conveniently, the Gare de Brive – la – Gaillarde station is only 2.5km from the stadium. You can walk to the stadium, but again, the club have organised transport with ‘Car Delbos’ to be running on match day to get supporters to the stadium. Schedules can be picked up from the tourist desk just inside the station.
Best place to eat and drink (inside the stadium)
Supporters are being advised to use the Café des Monédières at the stadium before the match. About twice the size of the We Fight Any Claim family zone, it is an ideal place to meet and greet with the home team. Food and drink is also sold here.
Best place to eat and drink (outside the stadium)
The Stade Amédée-Domenech is situated in the epicentre of the city. I have been informed that you can get everything you could possibly need within a 10 minute walk of the stadium. The top picks from the Brive supporters are Café De La Poste and Café des Paris for traditional French cuisine. Numerous more English based restaurants and bars like Le Watson and Le Grillardin are located close to the stadium.
I have been told from the Brive supporters to watch out for Gaetan Germain, Arnaud Mignardi and club captain Arnaud Mela. From our meeting at Rodney Parade, I would like to add in Thomas Laranjeira; who scored all of Brive’s points that day. Having also watched their victory at Worcester, Poutasi Luafatu and Johannes Snyman proved a difficult wall to break down and therefore Ashton and co. will have their work cut out to get past these.
What the Brive fans think
Dragons danger men
The Brive fans have spoken of a few players that they fear ahead of our European showdown. Firstly, try scorers from the game at Rodney Parade, Cory Hill and Rynard Landman, their ability on the field there for all to see. A little more surprising might be the inclusion of Craig Mitchell who received a few votes from the French fans I spoke with. Rhys Thomas was also mentioned.
I am told that before the start of the Challenge Cup, Brive targeted this competition. The Challenge Cup has presented the club a welcome distraction from a torrid league season. Brive are looking to replicate their French adversaries Montpellier winning of the Challenge Cup, and they will be up for this game – as most French teams are at home!
Despite their defeat at Rodney Parade, Brive’s fans are extremely confident of victory. Since defeat at RP (and a convincing one at that), they have gone on to record victories over every other team. In round 5, Brive beat Worcester in France, setting up this tie for the top position in the group. With home advantage, Brive supporters expect the victory that would confirm their qualification for the knock out stages.
Having seen Brive play on two occasions, I think we have a great chance. We’ve proven that we can go to France and win, with victories over Stade Francais and Pau in recent years, and we need to continue that tradition here. In their win over Worcester, Brive exposed gaps in the Warrior’s defence after keeping the ball after several phases. It sounds simple, but if we can prevent those gaps occurring then I don’t think our opposition will have a plan B. Line speed will be key. In the fixture at Rodney Parade, the French club lost interest after an hour because we did not allow their big ball carriers to gain momentum.
Start quickly, keep the score board ticking over and the French fans will turn on their team, and we will have a good chance. Let’s not forget that both ourselves and Worcester put 3 tries past Brive. Theirs is a defence that does concede tries.
All this makes me optimistic of a first away victory of the year. Our future in the competition depends on it.
What the Dragons need to qualify
The Gwent region need to win by 4 points. Then, both teams will be level on points, but the Dragons will qualify having won both games against Brive. So it is either a win without Brive registering a losing bonus point, or a 5 point win in which we can afford Brive to gain one bonus point.
Brive 17 – 26 Dragons
Ryan Robinson- Dragons community ambassador
Men of Gwent, can you hear us?
Show the foe that you are fearless,
Into battle you will lead us,
DRAGONS will prevail!