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Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Saturday, 22 January 2011

Biarritz 26-19 Bath

Biarritz (14) 26
Tries: Yachvili, Balshaw (2), Ngwenya Cons: Yachvili (3)
Bath (0) 19
Try: Hooper, Biggs (2) Con: Vesty (2)

Iain Balshaw
Balshaw scored two tries against his former side

Biarritz sealed a four-try bonus-point victory over Bath to top Pool Four and reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Dimitri Yachvili's early try plus one from former Bath wing Iain Balshaw gave the French side a 14-0 half-time lead.

Balshaw crossed again just a minute after the restart which scrum-half Yachvili also converted before lock Stuart Hooper replied for Bath.

But Takudzwa Ngwenya sealed the bonus point for Biarritz before Bath wing Tom Biggs added two late consolation tries.

Despite the challenge facing them in France, Bath started well against the pool leaders and could have taken an early lead had Olly Barkley's penalty not come back off the post.


But Biarritz soon started to find their feet and were ahead when Yachvili charged down Barkley's delayed kick, collected the ricochet and touched down under the posts.

Their second try appeared fortuitous with an earlier forward pass not penalised but nonetheless it was expertly finished off with Balshaw skinning Michael Claassens on the outside before eventually touching down under the posts.

Bath's task was made that much harder when prop Duncan Bell was yellow-carded but the visitors ended the half well with late pressure but failed to cross.

Balshaw grabbed his second of the game barely a minute after the restart, with a diagonal run taking him through the Bath defence and under the posts for Biarritz's third converted try.

But Bath responded well and lock Hooper bundled over from close range to give them their first points of the game.

With Ulster winning comfortably against Aironi, the pressure was on Biarritz to grab the vital fourth try to top the group and they soon got their wish.

American Ngwenya scored it out on the right wing, going over in the corner to give Biarritz a 26-5 lead.

But back came Bath again and Biggs bundled over from close range after good work from fellow wing Matt Banahan, replacement Sam Vesty converting the try.

And in the dying moments of the game, Biggs got his second of the match, which Vesty again converted to reduce the deficit to just seven points.

Bath coach Steve Meehan:
"The rugby itself was fairly evenly shared. At times we got on the front foot and played some good attacking rugby.

"If you look only at our win-loss count in this pool, it looks poor. But we performed better than that indicates.

"In the second-half, both of their tries came from poor tactical kicking that put us under pressure. But we finished off well and kept working for the full 80 minutes. We thoroughly deserved those three tries.

"It's frustrating to have lost, but you must be optimistic after performances like that."

Biarritz wing Iain Balshaw: "We completed our objective that we set at the start of the game. We knew we had a chance of a home quarter-final and delivered it.

"It was a stern test from Bath and it was probably very good to watch. We got four tries but in the last 10 minutes we were probably looking to get a few more tries and were swaying both ways.

"At half-time we said they would come out and play and it was important that we started the way we finished the first half. We took our foot off the gas but are pleased with the result."

Biarritz: Haylett-Petty, Ngwenya, Bosch, Traille, Balshaw, Peyrelongue, Yachvili; Lakafia, Harinordoquy, Vahafolau, Lund, Taele, Marconnet, August, Coetzee.

Replacements: Guyot for Vahafolau (41), Thion for Taele-Pvihi (53), Terrain for August (57), Watremez for Coetzee (65), Mignardi for Traille (67), Guinazu for Marconnet (67), Bolakoro for Balshaw (76).
Not Used: Lesgourgues.

Bath: Abendanon, Banahan, Barkley, Hape, Biggs, James, Claassens; Skirving, Watson, Taylor, Grewcock, Hooper, Wilson, Mears, Bell.

Replacements: Fernandez Lobbe for Grewcock (52), Ovens for Watson (53), McMillan for Claassens (65), Dixon for Wilson (70), Vesty for James (70), Cuthbert for Barkley (75).
Not Used: Flatman, Jarvis.

Sin Bin: Bell (33).

Att: 12,500

Ref: George Clancy (IRFU).

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see also
Aironi 6-43 Ulster
22 Jan 11 |  Ulster
Bath 55-16 Aironi Rugby
15 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Ulster 9-6 Biarritz
15 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup tables
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Rugby Union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2010/11
29 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union

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