Preview: Biarritz v Brive

Date published: April 27 2012

Biarritz will be without number eight Imanol Harinordoquy for Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Brive.

Biarritz will be without Imanol Harinordoquy for Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final clash with Brive at Parcs des Sports Aguilera.

The Basque skipper has been struggling with a knee injury and with BO still fighting for a place in the Top 14, no risks have been taken.

Magnus Lund returns to the Biarritz bench in his first appearance since injury knee ligaments back in September.

Two-time Heineken Cup finalists Biarritz will be aiming to secure a place in Europe's top division via the backdoor and will face a stern test against 1997 Heineken Cup champions Brive.

Biarritz were boosted by a convincing victory over Racing Metro on the weekend, to ease their Top 14 relegation fears somewhat, while Brive are teetering on the edge of the relegation zone after losing away to Toulouse.

But les Correziens will take some solace from the fact that they held a 18-15 lead at half-time.

Biarritz will also bid farewell to veteran French international prop Sylvain Marconnet at the end of the season and loose forward Benoit Guyot said the players are desperate to give their team-mate the perfect send-off.

“We did a good job at the weekend against Racing to improve our chances of staying in the Top 14 but the job is still not done,” said back-row Benoit Guyot, who played the full 80 minutes against Racing.

“Now we are fully focussed on producing something special in the Amlin Challenge Cup. Winning the Amlin is the only way for us to get a Heineken Cup ticket for next year.

“We definitely aren't taking this competition lightly because it's the only way for us to finish the season well – a season which started very badly.”

Brive advanced through Pool 5 unbeaten and edged past the Scarlets in the quarter-finals.

Former England international Shane Geraghty admits Brive have a huge task in front of them but he says everyone at the club is trying to repeat the great scenes of 1997, when the club claimed Heineken Cup glory.

“You walk around the club and you see so many photos from the Heineken Cup win in Cardiff in 1997. That would have been a massive achievement for any club but especially for Brive which is a small town with a community of around 50,000,” said Geraghty.

“To make the final would be fantastic for the fans – it would be a big day out for them and they deserve that. We have been written off by a lot of people this year but we've been proving them wrong so far in the Top 14 and we want to keep moving forward. Now we will target a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final.

“It is an incredible effort for the club to be in the semi-final and the whole of Brive is buzzing at the minute – we are really looking forward to taking Biarritz on.

“Dimitri Yachvili, who kicked Biarritz to victory against London Wasps in the quarter-finals, is a talisman for them and really controls the game,” added Geraghty.

The teams:

Biarritz: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Dane Haylett-Petty, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Benoît Baby, 10 Marcelo Bosch, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Talalelei Gray, 6 Benoit Guyot, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jérôme Thion, 3 Eugène Van Staden, 2 Arnaud Heguy, 1 Sylvain Marconnet.
Replacements: 16 Benoit August, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19 Erik Lund, 20 Magnus Lund, 21 Julien Peyrelongue, 22 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 23 Charles Gimenez.

Brive: 15 Mathias Atayi, 14 Ronnie Cooke, 13 Riaan Swanepoel, 12 Jamie Noon, 11 Sevania Galala, 10 Mathieu Belie, 9 Augustin Figuerola, 8 Antoine Claassen, 7 Vincent Forgues, 6 Simon Azoulai, 5 Olivier Caisso, 4 Retief Uys, 3 Alexandre Barozzi, 2 Iuri Natriashvili, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Pablo Henn, 18 Pat Barnard, 19 Julien Le Devedec, 20 Arnaud Mela, 21 Poutasi Luafutu, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Arnaud Mignardi.

Date: Saturday, April 28
Kick-off: 16:00 (15:00 BST)
Venue: Parcs des Sports Aguilera
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Greg Garner (England), Simon McDowell (Ireland)