Pau lost the battle but won the war as they eased into the European Challenge Cup final at a waterlogged Parc Municipal des Sports in Brive.

Brive went into the second leg of the Cup semi-final with a daunting 21-point deficit, and they were always going to struggle after a thunderstorm turned the rugby venue into one more suited for water polo. The home side won the game comfortably, but the 14-point margin fell short of their main goal.

Brive scrum-half Valentin Courrent missed two early shots at goal, but produced a deft chip in behind the Pau defence to hand fullback Nicolas Leroux the first try of the match.

It was a bright start, but the conditions spoiled several promising Brive attacks, and 19-year-old Pau scrum-half Fabien Cibray scored against the run of

Brive’s replacement lock John Welborn was awarded a try on the stroke of halftime, despite everyone in the ground except Welsh referee Nigel Whitehouse seeing him drop the ball before touching down, and prop Damien Minassian added another one shortly after the break.

Brive needed 12 points in the final 10 minutes to level the aggregate scores, but managed only five through winger Farid Sid. Pau play the winners of the Sale Sharks-Connacht semi-final, which will be completed on Sunday with Sale holding a seven-point lead after the first leg.