Bath yield to French passion

 

Brive, with Alain Penaud in sparkling form, played with too much passion and too much commitment for Bath yesterday, and although the current European champions are still lying second in Pool C, their cohesion and 80minute effort showed they are back to their best.

The Bath forwards toiled hard, with Nigel Redman a pillar of strength in the tight, but they were let down by the lack of inspiration in the back line, and the inability of the Bath three-quarters to break through Brive's impressive defence.

The only discernible tactic from Mike Catt at fly-half seemed to be kick, chase, and hope for the best. Admittedly, a couple of his up-and-unders put Penaud in difficulty at full-back, but these were heavily outnumbered by numerous inaccurate kicks, and it was as if Bath were simply handing the ball back to Brive to play with. Brive scored two tries and the impeccable Christophe Lamaison, successful with seven out of eight shots at goal, did the rest. Their first try, in the 19th minute, came from a long sequence of controlled play which showed the local side's superior ability to retain and recycle possession. Lamaison, outnumbered by Bath's ever-present defence, kicked delicately over the top, and Penaud, following up, caught Callard in possession in front of the posts.

From the maul, Lisandro Arbizu, with Steve Ojomoh looming in front of him, lobbed a long pass to the right and Pascal Bomati, although having to check himself to pick up the ball, still had enough pace and strength to get around Mike Catt to score close to the corner flag. Penaud, although clearly disgruntled at being relegated to the number 15 position, took to the task with his usual flourish, turning his role into a sort of libero, always capable of breaching the opposition defence. His superb individual try after 67 minutes brought the 7,000 spectators to their feet, and put the result beyond doubt. Arbizu, Brive's Argentinian centre, broke through near the left-hand touch-line and David Laperne, the replacement prop, kept the movement going.

Brive's forwards released the ball quickly to Philippe Carbonneau, who fed the flying Penaud on his left, and the erratic golden boy of Brive broke through the defence and sprinted 35 metres to score.