Warriors 24-25 Brive
European Challenge Cup
BACKS coach Sam Vesty was left frustrated as Warriors suffered a one-point defeat to Brive in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday.
Brive opened the scoring at Sixways through USA international Taku Ngwenya, before Warriors were rewarded a penalty try.
The hosts then took the lead as Ben Te’o crossed the whitewash in the corner, but tries from Brive
Skipper Said Hireche and Thomas Acquier was enough for the French outfit to hold on for the win, despite a last Andy Short score.
Vesty enlisted full-back Chris Pennell and England centre Te’o amongst Warriors’ youthful starting 15, as both made their return from injury.
But it was the French who were off the mark first when the powerful Ngwenya burst through midfield and broke tackles to dive over in the far left corner, which Thomas Laranjeira converted.
Just five minutes later the visitors extended their lead with an impressive Laranjeira penalty bisecting the posts from deep in midfield.
Warriors almost replied instantly when Pennell kicked the ball across the tryline for winger Josh Adams to chase and dot down, but the youngster was just beaten to the ball by the last Brive defender.
The visitors went close to stretching their lead to 13 points, but Laranjeira’s drop-goal attempt dragged wide following pressure from Andrew Kitchener.
Warriors were soaking up a lot of pressure as the physical French side battered their way forward and Adams was forced to make an outstanding crunching tackle on Benjamin Lapeyre, to deny him a free run down the right wing.
The hosts then broke forward as Matt Cox made a clever interception and fed Te’o, who teed up Short in the right corner, but the winger was stopped just metres from the tryline.
But moments later following a scrum, Warriors were rewarded a penalty try, which Tom Heathcote converted to edge the hosts back at 10-7.
Warriors then came close to taking the lead when Luke Baldwin broke through midfield and fed Max Stelling, but the promising play ended in a knock-on.
On the 40 minute mark, Laranjeira saw a penalty kick from the halfway line fall short, leaving Warriors just three points behind the French at the break.
The hosts had the ascendency entering the second-half and soon levelled the scores through a Heathcote penalty.
Warriors’ momentum was then quashed when Heathcote needed to be stretchered off following a bulldozing tackle from William Whetton.
But the injury spurred the hosts on as they took the lead for the first time in the game following neat play from Jamie Shillcock and Pennell, which resulted in Te’o diving over in the far right corner.
Shillcock added the extras to open up a 17-10 lead with just over 20 minutes to go.
However, Brive replied immediately through Hireche after the visitors bullied their way downfield, but Nicolas Bezy’s attempted conversion missed.
The fly-half had a second chance from a penalty just two minutes later though, which he scored to edge the French in front at 18-17.
Warriors pushed forward late on in search of a game-winning try when Jan Uys was sin-binned, but 14-man Brive hit back with a try from Acquier, which Bezy converted to stretch their lead to 25-17.
Warriors burst forward one last time as the clock ticked passed 80, in the hope of salvaging another losing bonus point and they claimed it when Short dived over in the corner.
Shillcock converted to ensure Warriors enter the second round of European Challenge Cup games in December with two points.
The Sixways side travel to Harlequins this Saturday in the Aviva Premiership (kick-off 3pm).