Brive 26 (9)
Stade Francais 10 (5)
Embattled Brive were outscored by two tries to one but still managed a comfortable 26-10 home win against Stade Francais to boost their Top 14 survival hopes.
Top 14 League Table
The Limousin club were leading 9-5 at the break but pulled clear in the second half as Stade were continually punished for giving away needless penalties.
The visitors' error-strewn display prompted centre Mathieu Bastareaud to blast his team-mates in a pointed post-match interview. "We must stop talking and start playing," he said. "We made basic schoolboy mistakes. We say we are a great team but we showed that we are nothing," he added.
Stade's defeat, their ninth of the season, capped a dark day for the capital club following earlier confirmation that fly-half Lionel Beauxis had signed to play for Stade Toulousain next season. The 25-year-old wasn't on the pitch at the Stade Amédée Domenech as he began a 20-day suspension, and the visitors sorely missed his input as 19-year-old fly-half Jules Plisson suffered a nervous night on his first league start for the club.
Top 14 transfers for 2011/12
Brive went into the game knowing a win was imperative after two successive defeats had sent them back into the relegation zone, and they got off to a positive start with their forwards showing discipline and intent as they tried to make home advantage count. A ninth-minute penalty from fly-half Mathieu Belie got them going, but they soon found themselves behind when Stade winger Ollie Phillips touched down for his 10th try of the season - and his eighth in Top 14.
That should have given Michael Cheika's team the ideal platform from which to build, but the Australian coach - who had to look on from the stands due to his own suspension - will not have been impressed by what followed.
Italian centre Gonzalo Tiesi failed with a long-range penalty to extend Stade's advantage in the 16th minute before Brive reclaimed the lead courtesy of Julien Caminati's 51m effort hitting the crossbar and bouncing over.
The remainder of the first half was a staccato affair as both sides made a large number of handling errors as they failed to control the slippery ball, but Brive did enough to give Belie another shot at goal just before break as they went in 9-5 ahead.
Leading try and point-scorers in Top 14
Stade then effectively shot themselves in their collective foot as they conceded five more penalties in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, three of which Caminati calmly slotted over to increase the hosts' lead to 18-5.
Phillips had again threatened with a break and kick through (in the 45th minute), only for Brive winger Mathias Atayi to win the race and touch down behind his own line, while Stade's cause was further undermined by Antoine Burban getting a 55th-minute yellow card for not retreating 10m.
Brive continued to win the forward battle and Caminati's fifth penalty success put them 21-5 up with 16 minutes left to play, before young replacement prop Rabah Slimani became Stade's second player to visit the sin-bin.
One minute later Brive sealed their crucial victory when number eight Antonie Claasen touched down after breaking blind from a 5m scrum.
Full-back Caminati ensured himself an early breather by getting yellow-carded in the 72nd minute, while Stade grabbed a late second try when winger Djibril Camara went over for his first league try of the season.
But it was too little too late for the Parisians as their already slim hope of making the play-offs took another battering. That will not please owner Max Guazzini one iota, and puts added pressure on Cheika and his players to win the Amlin Challenge Cup to secure a treasured Heineken Cup spot for next season.
Brive, on the other hand, must await Saturday's results to see how fellow relegation rivals La Rochelle and SU Agen fair. Both face top four opposition at home, so the prospects of Les Corrèziens ending the weekend out of the drop zone are good.
This was only Brive's second league win in 13 matches - and their fifth of the season - but it completed a notable double over Stade Francais after their last-ditch 29-27 victory in Paris back in September. Number eight Claasen scored on that night too - his only other try in Top 14 this season - but Brive must hope they don't mirror the form they showed after that victory, as they then went nine league games without a win.
But with four of their remaining seven league games at home the Limousin club now have genuine belief they can avoid the drop and retain their precious Top 14 status.
||Belie (2), Caminati (5)