Biarritz humble Bath in Heineken Cup

Biarritz humbled Bath 29-19 at Parc des Sports Aguilera in Heineken Cup Pool 4 which puts Biarritz second in the group’s final standings and Bath finish third.

Biarritz were clearly the better team and Bath final score does not reflect how much they were outplayed but a late try by Biggs makes the match look much closer than it was.

The French giants sealed a home quarter-final while Bath leave the Heineken Cup.

Two tries by former England international Iain Balshaw inspired last season’s
beaten finalists Biarritz who also managed to get their bonus point with four
tries and edge 1999 champions Ulster – who thrashed Italian side Aironi 43-6
in Italy with South African flanker Pedrie Wannenburg scoring three of the six
tries -in their pool courtesy of their head to head record.

Ulster, though, at least have the consolation of a place in the last eight
for the first time since 1999 as one of the two best runners-up.

Balshaw, who won the last of his caps for England nearly three years ago –
said that he and his side were slowly rediscovering their form.

"The most important thing was to qualify for the last eight," said
the former Gloucester star.

"We spoke at half-time of the possiblity we could score four tries (for
the bonus).

"It seemed a very open game but we made a lot of mistakes, at the same
time we had to have an open game to give ourselves the best opportunity to play
here in the quarters.

"However, we will have to wait till tomorrow (after Sunday’s matches)
to see what our fate in terms of whether we are at home or not.

"Of course to beat Bath with four tries will be good for our confidence.
We know we have the quality players to take us forward to the end of the season."

Biarritz had created a comfortable cushion by the half hour mark over their
English rivals with two converted tries through Dimitri Yachvili and England
World Cup winning back Balshaw – both of which Yachvili slotted over the conversions.

Balshaw’s was the best of the pair, the 2003 World Cup winner receiving the
ball well outside the 22 but showed an amazing turn of pace to beat the covering
Bath defence and score in the corner.

England prop Duncan Bell had had a torrid opening 30 minutes under constant
pressure from grizzled French veteran Sylvain Marconnet, whose return to top
form earned him a recall to the national squad this week, and he eventually
cracked and was sin-binned by the referee for bringing down the scrum.

However, Bath somehow managed to stave off the Biarritz pressure by gaining
a penalty themselves and Olly Barkley, who committed himself to the club this
week rather than moving abroad to French champions Clermont, cleared the danger.

Biarritz, though, grabbed their third try of the match soon after the beginning
of the second-half as 31-year-old man of the match Balshaw went over showing
that perhaps he has returned to the peak of his old form after suffering a succession
of injuries – Yachvili converted.

Bath rallied briefly by scoring a try of their own scrum-half Michael Claassens
– making his 100th appearance for the club – feeding lock Stuart Hooper who
bundled over, but with just over an hour gone the hosts wrapped up the match
and more importantly the bonus point guaranteeing them finishing top of the
pool with a fourth try.

Biarritz’ Zimbabwe-born American international winger Takudzwa Ngwenya was
the man to score as he received the ball just inside the 22 but made light work
of a fairly feeble attempt to tackle him and touched down for his fifth try
of the season.

The visitors at least got two more tries to salvage some pride in what has
been an underwhelming campaign as Tom Biggs beat two tackles to go over and

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