Heineken Cup: Biarritz blitz Connacht in mudbath
Biarritz ground out a 17-0 victory over Connacht in poor conditions to get their Heineken Cup campaign back on track
Last Updated: 15/12/12 7:10am
In driving rain that saturated large parts of the pitch, the Irish side were expecting a backlash from the French giants, who sacked coaches Jack Isaac and Serge Milhas after their shock 22-14 defeat in Galway.
And so it proved as their forwards rumbled into the Connacht 22, winning two early penalties before Dimitri Yachvili struck a third-minute kick through the uprights.
As the rain continued, Connacht dug their heels in and defended manfully with young full-back Robbie Henshaw secure under the high ball and the mud-covered pack competing in stout fashion.
Dan Parks looked to give the visitors some momentum behind the scrum but the French side dominated territorial advantage and broke through on the half hour, Damien Traille's half break making the initial incision and Jean-Pascal Barraque passing precisely for the supporting Iain Balshaw to splash over in the corner.
Yachvili added the extras to take the hosts through to half-time with a 10-0 cushion, but a sin-binning for Biarritz hooker Benoit August, who got involved in some 'afters' with Johnny O'Connor, presented Connacht with an opportunity to launch themselves forward after the break.
However, Parks sent a subsequent penalty from a difficult position wide and some handling errors robbed the Irish of precious momentum in an evenly-fought third quarter.
Danie Poolman was stretchered off after taking a knee to the head and although Biarritz lost Thibault Dubarry to the sin bin they remained on the front foot.
And with the clock counting down, they pressed from a Fabien Barcella surge into the westerners' 22 and a five-metre scrum. Connacht held out until Traille opened the way for Seremaia Burotu to power past Paul O'Donohoe's last-ditch tackle in the left corner.
Yachvili converted to complete the scoring as his side moved back into second place in Pool Three behind runaway leaders Harlequins.