Biarritz brush Ulster aside
October 17, 2010
Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili had another good day with the boot in Basque country
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Biarritz took firm control of Heineken Cup Pool 4 by picking up a bonus point in an impressive 35-15 victory over a much-vaunted Ulster side at the Parc des Sports Aguilera on Sunday afternoon.
After a tight and turgid first half, the two sides were locked at three points apiece at the interval, with Biarritz No.9 Dimitri Yachvili having cancelled out Ruan Pienaar's early penalty.
However, Biarritz exploded into life after the break. Taku Ngwenya and Manuel Carizza dotted during a dominant third quarter for the Basques and although Andrew Trimble gave Ulster renewed hope when he crossed on 67 minutes, Biarritz posted an instant reply through Sylvain Marconnet. American wing Ngwenya then touched down again, meaning Stephen Ferris' last-gasp try for the visitors counted for little.
Biarritz kicked off their European campaign with a vital away success at Bath, while Ulster claimed a bonus-point victory over Aironi in round one. However, this contest in the south-west of France had been billed as the biggest match in Ulster's recent history since lifting the trophy against Colomiers in 1999. The Irish province had never won in France, with just one draw from their 12 previous visits, but travelled in high spirits following their unbeaten start to the Magners League season.
The hosts kicked off in the bright sunshine but it was the visitors who shone in the opening quarter. Trimble burst through in the ninth minute but as fly-half Ian Humphreys threw a long pass intended for European debutant David McIlwaine, English referee Andrew Pearson pulled the game back for an earlier infringement.
Scrum-half Pienaar missed the opening penalty with a wayward strike from close range but the South African made amends in the 13th minute as he fired Ulster into the lead from an identical position.
Biarritz, who have scored fewest tries of any team in the Top 14 with nine, rallied with a lengthy spell of possession but Ulster displayed their strength up front as the visitors' defence held firm. Simon Danielli limped off injured but Ulster wasted a golden opportunity on the half hour to score from an attacking scrum when Pienaar's long pass was intercepted by Iain Balshaw.
And the visitors were punished by Yachvili who levelled the scores with a 37th-minute penalty. Even so, Brian McLaughlin's men should have scored the opening try of the match when No.8 Robbie Diack broke through only to be denied by a superb try-saving tackle from Dane Haylett-Petty.
However, all Ulster's good work of the opening period was undone as they fell behind in the 44 minute. Yachvili was again in the thick of the action when he combined with Magnus Lund to send Ngwenya over for his opening try in the left corner. Yachvili converted and added two penalties as Biarritz surged 16-3 ahead.
The hosts increased the tempo as front five forwards Carizza and Marconnet powered over either side of a neat score from Trimble for Ulster. Wing sensation Ngwenya completed the perfect afternoon for the home side with the fourth try with three minutes remaining and Ferris' try from a quick-tap proved to only be a consolation.
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