Biarritz book Challenge Cup final with Toulon

Biarritz booked a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup final against Toulon when they whitewashed Brive at Parc des Sports Aguilera on Saturday.

The home side kept a cleansheet in defence and Damien Traille scored the only try of the match.

France international Dimitri Yachvili kicked 14 points after they led 13-0 at half time.

Yachvili’s 14 points – plus a try from fellow French veteran Damien Traille – set up an attractive final on May 18 against Toulon, who edged Stade Francais on Friday thanks to a last minute drop goal by Jonny Wilkinson.

The all-French climax is being staged at The Stoop, the home ground of English club Harlequins.

Victory in the European Challenge will also come with the reward of a place in next season’s European Cup which would be a welcome bonus to five-time French champions Biarritz, who have no chance of qualifying through the Top 14 finishing spot and have battled against relegation all season.

“That does us a lot of good in what has been a difficult season,” said 31-year-old Yachvili.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved in the past few weeks.

“There still remains two steps to go in the championship and for the moment nothing is certain regarding our fate.

“But it is a source of great pride to reach a European final. There remain 80 minutes to win this trophy against a good Toulon side.”

Brive, though, are left solely to rebuild their morale and ensure they do enough in the final two Top 14 league matches – they face a relegation six pointer against fourth from bottom Bordeaux-Begles next weekend – to preserve their elite status.

At present they are one place above the second and last relegation spot – Lyon have already been relegated – by virtue of a better points difference than Bayonne.

Didier Casadei, the Brive forwards coach, said while it was disappointing to lose their priorities lay elsewhere.

“The important match, we knew despite everything, is the one next weekend (against Bordeaux-Begles) even if it was an honour to be able to contest a semi-final, which hasn’t happened for a long time,” he said.

Traille scored the only try of the first-half bravely going up for an up and under by Marcelo Bosch and coming off best against South African wing Ronnie Cooke to touch down – which was confirmed by the video referee.

Yachvili converted to add to his two penalties prior to that and left their opponents a tough task to surmount.

Brive had their chances to reduce the deficit but South African kicker Riian Swanepoel was off colour and missed his penalty attempts.

Brive fared little better when they were awarded a penalty on the hour mark and opted for a scrum five metres out but Biarritz managed to turn the scrum and the referee awarded a penalty to Biarritz.

The peerless Yachvili all but sealed Biarritz’s place in the final in the 65th minute as he slotted over a penalty to make it 16-0 and added another with 10 minutes remaining.

Alexandre Barozzi rounded off a woeful day for Brive as the prop was red carded on the whistle for throwing a punch.

Final Score Biarritz 19 (13) Brive 0 (0)


Tries: Traille
Penalties: Yachvili 4
Conversions: Yachvili


Match Officials
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner (England). Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh (Ireland)


Biarritz Olympique v Brive

Biarritz Olympique: I Balshaw; T Ngwenya, D Haylett-Petty, D Traille [capt], B Baby; M Bosch, D Yachvili; S Marconnet, A Heguy, E Van Staden, J Thion, M Carizza, B Guyot, T Gray, R Lakafia

Replacements: B August, Y Watremez, F Gomez Kodela, E Lund,

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