CHRISTIAN SHORT: WHAT A START TO THE TOP 14

After our defeat against Toulouse we bounced back a week later in the derby match drawing it 9-9. I came off the bench for the last 12 minutes, the atmosphere was electric 15,500 people in the stadium the match was so close. The build-up to the derby is something special in the town, there is great buzz. These are the games that you want to play in as a professional sportsman, it was the same playing for Northampton v. Leicester. It’s just not an option to lose the derby game at home. The Brive supporters ‘Le Gaillarde’ are amongst the most loyal supporters they follow us everywhere.

So we had played three matches. Won one, drawn one and lost one. Played against Montpellier, Clermont-Ferrand last year’s runner up, and French heavyweights Toulouse in their back yard. What a start to the Top 14!

Personally I was struggling with form, I hadn’t had much game time, I had come off the bench in two games and played 80 minutes in another. It was hard to get any consistency and match fitness. Going into the week before the match against Perpignan was huge for me, I needed a big week’s training.

There is huge competition for starting places, everyone was fit and everyone wants to play, especially away to the current French Champions. I got the start.

The match was the first midweek game coming just five days after playing Clermont. It was a warm but wet night. The match couldn’t have started any better, we opened the scoring after three minutes with a penalty. We exchanged scores and we were playing in the right areas of the pitch. Perpignan then scored a try with a cross field kick on 30 minutes against the run of play, we 15-9 down. From the resulting kick-off I made a tackle on the nine, I caught him on the top of the chest as he kicked the ball. The crowd went mad. A fight broke out between the two teams as it often does, the nine from Perpignan made the most of the situation. And as a result I got a yellow card. We went into the break 18-9 down. The next 40 minutes was frustrating, we played some good rugby but made some simple mistakes. We were 21-9 down with 17 minutes left and we were forced to go after the bonus point. We needed to score a try, but came up short, we put a lot of pressure on Perpignan but couldn’t get within seven points. There were two other sin bins in the second half, so in total we played for 30 minutes of the match with 14 players. Just something you can’t do against Perpignan. Despite the loss we played some great rugby, there was a great spirit in the group, we all felt very frustrated with how the sin bins came about and the result of the match.

It wasn’t like Toulouse, we knew that we should have come away with a lot more. The good thing about the busy schedule was we only had three days till the next match at home, against newly promoted Albi. Unfortunately for Albi we took our frustrations out on them. We scored five tries and won the game 39-6. Back to scoring and winning ways.

That brings us to this weekend against Montauban, we lost narrowly 23-20. It a was a game we should have won outscoring Montauban three tries to one, the difference between the two sides came down to the boot of Montauban’s fly half Cedric Rosalen who kicked 18 points. We missed 22 points in total.

We dominated at the scrum and the breakdown area and we came away with our first away bonus point but it was a despondent dressing room after knowing we had left four points in Montauban.

We have Biarritz at home on Saturday which is a huge match to get back to winning ways and to keep fortress Brive in tacked. ALLEZ BRIVE!

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