Biarritz out to seal the deal
January 21, 2011
Imanol Harinordoquy will be out to inspire Biarritz © Getty Images
Biarritz welcome Bath to the Parc des Sports Aguilera on Saturday for a vital showdown in their quest for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
Last weekend's narrow 9-6 loss to Ulster at Ravenhill left last season's beaten finalists level on points with the Irish side at the summit of Pool 4.
With Ulster going up against Aironi in Viadana, Biarritz are under pressure to match their feats, although a repeat of their 12-11 win over Bath at the Rec in round one would be enough to see them through either as winners or in second spot.
Biarritz - Player to Watch: When tries are required, Biarritz rarely have to look further than their American flyer, Taku Ngwenya, who remains one of the tournament's big draws.
Biarritz - Team News: Damien Traille shifts from fly-half to inside-centre, with Julien Peyrelongue recalled at No.10 to partner Dimitri Yachvili. Club skipper Jerome Thion misses out on a place in the second-row to Pelu Taele and former Leeds lock Erik Lund.
Bath - Player to Watch: With four tries to his name last weekend and a spot in England's matchday 22 for the Six Nations up for grabs, Matt Banahan will want to impress once again.
Bath- Team News: Scrum-half Michael Claassens will make his 100th appearance for the club while skipper Luke Watson shifts to openside in place of the injured Lewis Moody, with Ben Skirving taking over at No.8.
Key Battle: Bath's pack will not want to be outmuscled after recent improvements up front but they will have a huge task on their hands, with Biarritz set to dominate the tight exchanges.
Trivia: Biarritz's record points-scorer in the tournament, Dimitri Yachvili, accounted for all of their points against Bath in the opening round.
Stats: Should Biarritz win this weekend, they will draw level with Bath on three wins apiece in their European encounters to date.
"You can try and frustrate them and keep them out of penalty and drop goal range, and it will be up to us to be physical and aggressive in our play and control the ball as much as we can. If we can do that then we will have a chance." - Bath coach Steve Meehan.
"We prepared all week with the idea to win and score tries to get that bonus point." - Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili will go all out for five points.
Prediction: Bath will offer a stern challenge to the home side but Biarritz will not falter this close to the quarter-finals. Home win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup