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Heineken Cup: Biarritz blitz Connacht in mudbath
Biarritz ground out a 17-0 victory over Connacht in desperate conditions to get their Heineken Cup campaign back on track.
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.
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|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|Sunday 25th January|
|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|Munster 65 - 10 Sale Sharks|
|Clermont Auvergne 18 - 6 Saracens|
|Bath 20 - 15 Glasgow|
|Montpellier 27 - 26 Toulouse|
|Saturday 24th January|
|Scarlets 3 - 26 Toulon|
|Ulster 26 - 7 Leicester|
|Northampton 8 - 32 Racing Metro 92|
|Benetton Treviso 23 - 20 Ospreys|
|Castres 19 - 47 Harlequins|
|Wasps 20 - 20 Leinster|
|Sunday 18th January|
|Ospreys 9 - 20 Northampton|
|Racing Metro 92 53 - 7 Benetton Treviso|
|Toulouse 18 - 35 Bath|
|Glasgow 21 - 10 Montpellier|
|Saturday 17th January|
|Harlequins 3 - 23 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 13 - 22 Clermont Auvergne|
|Leinster 50 - 8 Castres|
|Toulon 60 - 22 Ulster|
|Saracens 33 - 10 Munster|
|Friday 16th January|
|Leicester 40 - 23 Scarlets|
|Sunday 14th December|
|Scarlets 22 - 13 Ulster|
|Clermont Auvergne 26 - 19 Munster|
|Wasps 44 - 17 Castres|
|Saturday 13th December|
|Leinster 14 - 13 Harlequins|
|Saracens 28 - 15 Sale Sharks|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com