Heineken Cup: Dan Parks powers Connacht to win over Biarritz in Pool 3
Connacht boosted their hopes of a maiden Heineken Cup quarter-final appearance with a 22-14 win over Biarritz.
Last Updated: 08/12/12 10:01pm
The Tongan winger's first-half try was supplemented by 17 points from Dan Parks' boot to keep the Irish province in contention for a maiden appearance in the last eight of Europe's premier club competition.
Connacht have eight points from their three matches, one behind pool leaders Harlequins who have the chance to pull clear when they visit Zebre on Saturday.
Biarritz, denied even a losing bonus point after an error-strewn display, have five points from their three matches.
Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili opened the scoring for Biarritz with a penalty after two minutes but Connacht quickly responded.
Biarritz centre Marcelo Bosch's pass was intercepted by Dave McSharry, who offloaded to Vainikolo on his right shoulder for a run to the line. Parks converted for a 7-3 lead.
Both sides were conceding regular penalties, Parks and Yachvili each missing once from the kicking tee before Yachvili was back on target to reduce the French side's deficit to one point.
Parks landed a drop goal in the 23rd minute to edge Connacht clear but they lost No 8 Eoin McKeon to the sin-bin four minutes before half-time after he took out Iain Balshaw in the air.
Yachvili was soon back on his feet to slot his third penalty to take Biarritz to the break trailing 10-9.
Connacht survived the remainder of McKeon's absence without further damage and a quick penalty double from Parks moved the Irish province into a 16-9 lead on 52 minutes.
The home forwards produced some staunch defence during a sustained period of Biarritz pressure and Parks was able to seal the result with a drop goal and penalty inside the last 10 minutes.
Wing Tiernan O'Halloran became the second Connacht player to visit the sin-bin after killing the ball close to his own line and Biarritz skipper Imanol Harinordoquy took advantage shortly after to cross in the left corner from close range.
That gave Yachvili a chance to salvage a losing bonus point with the last kick of the game but his touchline conversion attempt was wayward and the visitors left empty handed.