Planet Rugby

Biarritz shovelled out of Glasgow

09th December 2007 14:43

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Dan Parks Heineken Cup

Dan Parks: Man of the moment

Biarritz's already poor form took another turn for the worse on Sunday, after the 2005 runners-up succumbed to a 9-6 defeat at the hands of Glasgow in the Heineken Cup at Firhill.

In another awful game involving the Basques, Glasgow's discipline in defence and the ability of Dan Parks to clip over any penalty on offer saw the Scots triumphantly repel some limp Biarritz attacking.

The defeat further increases the pressure on Biarritz coach Patrice Lagisquet after a dire start to the season by the star-studded French.

Firhill is far from the azures of the Aquitaine, and the visitors clearly missed home on Sunday.

Despite the big names, the French were almost completely devoid of shape, skill or spirit until the final few moments of the match - but by then it was too late.

Although the rain held off for the duration of the game, Biarritz's handling was woeful. As bombs bounced off shoulders and fingers flapped at simple passes, it became obvious that the visitors had forgot to pack their hands for the trip north. They depart soggy Scotland having caught little more than a cold.

Moreover, the experiment of fielding Marcelo Bosch at fly-half was an unmitigated disaster and hooker Benjamin Noirot and his line-out jumpers appeared to be working off different scripts.

But let that not take away from Glasgow's sterling defensive effort. Time and again they knocked player and ball back, stopping the likes of Damien Traille and Serge Betsen in their illustrious tracks.

With Lagisquet on his last legs, Biarritz bosses would be wise to note down Sean Lineen's number - the Glasgow coach is rapidly building a reputation as a miracle worker.

Parks, finally playing with a confidence befitting his Australian passport, opened the scoring with a penalty after a French scrum imploded under pressure from a mighty shove from the locals.

The score galvanised the locals, and with the pipes ringing in their ears, they returned the restart on the hoof. On and on they drove, recycling and popping with aplomb. With the sticks looming large, Parks dropped for goal, only to hit the upright. The points weren't forthcoming, but the message was clear: the Warriors weren't about to roll over.

Imanol Harinordoquy was the next Frenchman to buckle, allowing Parks to double his side's lead by being caught off-side while attempting to defend a raid spearheaded by Lome Fa'atau.

The writing was now on the wall for Biarritz, and the game was barely ten minutes old. But class will always out, and Brusque fanned the flames by chipping and gathering out of defence to silence the increasingly vocal crowd.

With 26 minutes on the clock, Biarritz finally got off the mark when Glasgow's defenders grew a wee bit too enthusiastic at the breakdown, and Julien Dupuy stepped up to convert the penalty.

Fa'atau then proved that Glasgow are more than the honest toilers by counterattacking on a wide arc that was ended just short of the line by a despairing tackle.

Basque nerves were now a-jangling. Eduard Coetzee was pinged for killing the ball in defence, and Park added his third and final score with a great long-range kick at the sticks.

Dupuy then summed up the disparity between the two sides by failing to answer back from the tee, his right toe appearing to catch the heavy Scottish sod at the moment of truth.

And so the French giants went to the break 9-3 down and with serious matters to discuss. Unable to bring the sun out of hiding, they did the next best thing by adding Julien Peyrelongue to the mix at the expense of the beleaguered Bosch.

The change gave Biarritz an added dimension and they began to build multiple phases via simple, solid rugby.

They spent a full 70 per cent of the final 40 minutes in Glasgow's half, yet time and again they were repelled by good local defence and the unforgiving boot of Parks.

With another handful of attacks dying in their early youth and Dupuy missed another shot at goal, Biarritz decided to change tactics and tasked their forwards to stuff it up their jumpers. It seems to work better, but Glasgow's ravenous pack was equal to the task and shunted the French away from their line each time they got close.

Biarritz then got the break they were longing for. Fa'atau was adjudged - somewhat harshly, it must be said - to have tackled Traille late, and Dupuy slotted the ensuing penalty. With just six minutes remaining, it was anyone's game.

The visitors sensed redemption and upped the ante, driving the ball up via their forwards once again. But the Scots followed suit, shaping body and mind into a wall of defence.

It seemed that Biarritz would steal an undeserved win as the clock ticked agonisingly down, but the gods of rugby smiled on Glasgow's defensive heroics. Both Dupuy and Traille fumbled easy balls in dangerous positions and the Warriors had the win they craved, surely the biggest of their short history.

With three games played in the Heineken Cup, the unheralded Scots sit on the shoulders of the French giant. Remarkable.

Man of the match: Despite the fumbling, Damien Traille and Nicolas Brusque showed their class in attack - if only they had better support. Dan Parks produced another highly astute performance for Edinburgh, proving once and for all that he is now finally free of the self-doubt that stymied his early career. John Barclay and Kelly Brown got through a heap of work on the flanks, but the real star of show was the unrelenting omnipresence that goes by the name of Johnnie Beattie - the boy became a man today.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:

Pens: Parks 3

For Biarritz:

Pens: Dupuy 2

Glasgow: 15 Bernardo Stortoni, 14 Lome Fa'atau, 13 Andrew Henderson, 12 Daryl Gibson, 11 Hefin O'Hare, 10 Dan Parks (c), 9 Sam Pinder, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Dan Turner, 4 Andy Newman, 3 Moray Low, 2 Fergus Thomson, 1 Justin Va'a.

Replacements: 16 Eric Milligan, 17 Ed Kalman, 18 Opeta Palepoi, 19 James Eddie, 20 Chris O'Young, 21 Scott Barrow, 22 Graeme Morrison.

Biarritz: 15 Nicolas Brusque, 14 Ashwin Willemse, 13 Henry Fa'afili, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Benjamin Thiéry, 10 Marcelo Bosch, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Samiu Vahafolau, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Serge Betsen, 5 Trevor Hall, 4 Jérôme Thion (c), 3 Denis Avril, 2 Benjamin Noirot, 1 Eduard Coetzee.

Replacements: 16 Benoît August, 17 Petru Balan, 18 Santiago Dellape, 19 Jacques Cronjé, 20 Fabien Cibray, 21 Philippe Bidabe, 22 Julien Peyrelongue.

Referee:Tim Hayes (Wales)

Touch judges: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)

Television match official: Tony Rowlands (Wales)

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