Biarritz showed they are once again going to be difficult to beat this season after they eased past Ulster 35-15 at Parc des Sports Aguilera.
Biarritz demonstrated they are once again going to be difficult to beat this season after they eased past Ulster 35-15 at Parc des Sports Aguilera.
Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili was the architect for last season's finalists with a 15-point tally, including three penalties and three conversions.
Wing Takudzwa Ngwenya grabbed a brace of second half-tries while Manuel Carizza and Sylvain Marconnet also crossed to seal maximum points for the French giants.
The result left big-spending Ulster empty-handed despite late consolation scores from Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris.
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.
But 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 an ambitious start by the visitors.
Andrew 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.
Ruan Pienaar missed the opening penalty with a wayward strike from close range but the South African scrum-half 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 number eight Robbie Diack broke through only to be denied by a superb try-saving tackle from Dane Haylett-Petty.
But 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.
Tries: Ngwenya 2, Carizza, Marconnet
Con: Yachvili 3
Pen: Yachvili 3
Tries: Trimble, Ferris
Biarritz Olympique: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Charles Gimenez, 12 Michael Bond, 11 Iain Balshaw, 10 Julien Peyrelongue, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Erik Lund, 4 JÃ©rÃ´me Thion, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Benoit August, 1 Eduard Coetzee.
Replacements: 16 Romain Terrain, 17 Sylvain Marconnet, 18 Alexandre Barozzi, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Benoit Guyot, 21 Damien Traille, 22 Arnaud Mignardi, 23 Ilikena Bolakoro.
Ulster: 15 David McIlwaine, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Stephen Ferris, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Tim Barker, 4 Johann Muller, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Bryan Young, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Nevin Spence, 23 Adam D'Arcy.
Referee: Dave Pearson