Worcester Warriors v Brive: Premiership's bottom club to meet France's backmarkers

Jamie Shillcock
Youngster Jamie Shillcock was part of a weakened Warriors side who lost 25-24 at home to Brive in their second Challenge Cup game a year ago

Worcester coach Carl Hogg says the European Challenge Cup visit of Brive is a meeting of two teams equally keen to kickstart their campaigns.

Warriors, bottom of the Premiership after six straight losses, host the French Top 14 bottom side at Sixways.

But fellow backmarkers Brive are slightly better off, having won one of their seven games this season.

"We want to kickstart our season with a positive performance and result to go forward from," Hogg told BBC Sport.

"But Brive have obviously got their woes in the Top 14. They'll see this as a springboard too."

Brive have been pretty consistent since being promoted to the French top flight in 2013, finishing 10th, 9th, 8th and 8th last season, when they also helped put Warriors out of the Challenge Cup at the group stage.

Warriors lost 24-16 to Bath in the 2008 final, before going out 22-11 in the semis a year later to Bourgoin-Jallieu, having beaten Brive 29-18 in the quarters.

But in six attempts since, they have not managed to get out of the group, finishing third last season when they were in the same group as Brive, narrowly losing both games.

With Ryan Mills (left) and Francois Hougaard as their half-back pairing, Warriors scored 29 tries in their final eight games last season
With Ryan Mills (left) and Francois Hougaard as their half-back pairing, Warriors scored 29 tries in their final eight games last season

Warriors keen to progress in Europe

Although both sides have made a poor start to the season, going into this Anglo-French wooden spoon battle, Hogg insists that the two-week European break could not have come at a better time.

He also promises that, having not always picked their strongest side in this competition, Warriors will take it more seriously than they have in recent seasons.

"We have identified this competition as one we want to progress in," Hogg told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "Picking the team for Saturday will be all about balance and giving people opportunities in individual positions.

"It's good to have a break from the Premiership to freshen things up. And, if you can get off to a good start in Europe, it can map out in your favour."

He also insists that, although Warriors remain weakened without last season's first-choice half-back pairing Ryan Mills (quad) and Francois Hougaard (hip/groin), there is plenty of cause for positivity at the up-for-sale club.

"There are enough elements of our game that are right," added Hogg. "We just have to stay faithful and keep patient that it will turn around in our favour. It's all about getting our mentality and our accuracy right, especially in that first 20-minute period of games."

Warriors' European dates

  • Saturday, 14 October - Warriors v Brive (15:00 BST)
  • Saturday, 21 October - Connacht v Warriors (15:00 BST)
  • Saturday, 9 December - Warriors v Oyonnax (15:00 GMT)
  • Friday, 15 December - Oyonnax v Warriors (20:00 GMT)
  • Thursday, 11 January - Warriors v Connacht
  • Thursday, 18 January - Brive v Warriors

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