Planet Rugby

Biarritz steal Glasgow's spoils

14th December 2007 21:55

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For 76 minutes Glasgow led Biarritz in France. And then somehow the Basques got out of jail in the Heineken Cup to score two late tries and snuff out Glasgow's challenge for the game, and in all probability, the competition.

Tongan flanker Samiu Vahafolau was the Biarritz hero scoring both tries, but it was the men in blue of Glasgow who should be afforded hero status once again, for nearly repeating their feats of last week.

Glasgow could not have dreamed of a more inspiring start as they opened up an 11-point lead in the first quarter.

From the kick-off by Dan Parks, Biarritz were penalised for offside and as a result of backchat, Welsh referee Nigel Owens marched the hosts back a further 10 metres to make Parks' strike a formality.

The early blow was an alarm call for the French and they began to exert pressure through enterprising handling play and teasing positional kicks.

But as last week, the French were simply awful. The backs ran flat and slow, the forwards never built up momentum, and there were eight dropped passes. It looked like a hastily cobbled-together pub sevens team having a game of touch at times.

Take nothing away from Glasgow's defence; the Scots were in Biarritz's faces all the time and never let up, but surely this Biarritz team should have had the experience and guile to break it.

Glasgow's stubbornness was rewarded after 18 minutes when Parks banged over another penalty.

Even better was to come for the Warriors almost immediately. Yet another ball went to ground in midfield from a Biarritz hand, and Bernardo Stortoni seized upon it.

The Argentinean brushed off three tackles (including one from Sege Betsen - a barometer of Biarritz's feeble spirit if ever there was one), before releasing the excellent John Barclay on his inside. Barclay, over 25 metres, held off the challenge of speedster Takudzwa Ngwenya to score. Parks missed the conversion, but it was 11-0!

Brave tackling and clever marshalling by the Glasgow defence staved off a reply, but they were powerless to stop Damien Traille getting his team off the mark nine minutes before the break with a simple penalty.

Traille added another early in the second half, but immediately from the restart Parks slotted an opportunist drop-goal to make it 14-6.

Traille once again brought Biarritz back to within a score with ten minutes remaining at 14-9, and then Glasgow finally began to creak.

Referee Nigel Owens awarded free-kicks to the French for a delayed line-out throw and then a crooked scrum feed.

Then came the moment that set up the tension-packed finale.

Justin Va'a, who had re-entered the action as a substitute again, was yellow-carded for lashing out in retaliation.

Biarritz spurned the chance of three points and instead went for position in the corner in their bid for a try, and their enterprise paid off as substitute Vahafolau plunged over for the score off a rolling maul, the try converted by Traille to take Biarritz into the lead.

The final play of the game had Parks within drop goal range, but it was charged down, and Philippe Bidabe hacked the ball through to the corner where Vahafolau turned over the ball from the covering Hefin O'Hare and scored the clincher.

Man of the Match: Despite Biarritz's win, this has to be a Glaswegian, and there were few on the paddock who did as much as the back row of Kelly Brown, John Barclay and Johnnie Beattie. To negate Betsen, Harinordoquy and Cronje so utterly is very impressive.

The scorers:

For Biarritz:

Try: Vahafolau 2

Con: Traille

Pens: Traille 3

For Glasgow:

Try: Barclay

Pens: Parks 2

Drop goal: Parks

Biarritz: 15 Nicolas Brusque, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Philippe Bidabe, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Benjamin Thiery, 10 Julien Peyrelongue, 9 Fabien Cibray, 8 Jacques Cronje, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Serge Betsen, 5 Santiago Dellape, 4 Jerome Thion (c), 3 Denis Avril, 2 Benjamin Noirot, 1 Eduard Coetzee.

Replacements: 16 Benoît August 17 Petru Balan 18 Trevor Hall 19 Samiu Vahafolau 20 Marcelo Bosch 21 Henry Fa'afili 22 Ashwin Willemse

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.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Touch judges: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Huw Griffiths (Wales)

Television match official: Derek Bevan (Wales)

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