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- Heineken Cup
- Pool 6
- 23rd Jan 2009
- KO 20:00
- Ground: Parc des Sports Aguilera
- Att: 7,000
Yachvili dumps out Gloucs
Biarritz too classy for Cherry and Whites
Gloucester crashed out of the Heineken Cup after a disappointing 24-10 defeat to Biarritz at Parc Aguilera.
Needing a bonus-point win to have any chance of progressing into the last eight of the competition, Gloucester were made to pay for a pedestrian start to the match as Biarritz powered to their third pool win of the campaign.
Tries in the opening 15 minutes from Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili, who both starred in front of France head coach Marc Lievremont, set the tone as Gloucester left themselves with too stiff a task to overcome.
James Simpson-Daniel did hit back with a superb score before the break, however, when fly-half Julien Peyrelongue charged down Willie Walker's kick to dive over, Gloucester's European dream was brought to an abrupt end.
Olly Barkley kicked off proceedings in atrocious conditions at Parc Aguilera and Biarritz immediately signalled their intent when Damien Traille's clearance kick sailed into touch inside the Gloucester 22.
That kick led to a prolonged spell of early pressure from the hosts - Gloucester's inability to adapt to the conditions highlighted when they conceded an early penalty.
Former Gloucester favourite Yachvili picked up his first points of the night by firing over the resulting penalty with barely two minutes on the clock.
A stunning last-ditch tackle from Iain Balshaw prevented wing Takudzwa Ngwenya increasing Biarritz's lead shortly after, however the hosts did not have to wait long before registering their first try of the evening.
A poorly worked line-out, Gloucester's second in the opening five minutes, resulted in France international Harinordoquy bulldozing his way over the line.
Yachvili clinically added the extras as head coach Dean Ryan and his players looked on in disbelief as they trailed 10-0.
And if the Gloucester players thought their task was difficult, their mountain became even harder to climb five minutes later when canny scrum-half Yachvili produced a superb piece of individual skill to score.
After kicking behind a static Gloucester line, Yachvili collected the ball at full pace and dived over the whitewash. His conversion put Biarritz into a 17-0 lead after just 15 minutes.
The frenetic nature of the match continued and this time it was Gloucester who got themselves on the board when Simpson-Daniel expertly finished off a flowing team move to bring the visitors back into the game.
Barkley's crisp conversion and a well-struck penalty soon after reduced the deficit to seven points, as the 500 visiting supporters sensed a comeback.
A cynical professional foul from Traille on Balshaw saw the Frenchmen earn 10 deserved minutes in the sin-bin shortly before half-time, however Barkley missed the resulting penalty.
Resuming after the interval, Gloucester soon shot themselves in the foot again when Walker's kick was charged down by Peyrelongue, who picked up the pieces to score.
Yachvili's 14th point of the evening from the resulting conversion was to be the only other score in an otherwise forgettable second-half.
Gloucester, sitting second in the Guinness Premiership, now turn their attention solely to domestic action as they attempt to mount a late charge on the league title.
The win saw Biarritz leapfrog the Cherry and Whites to finish Pool Six in second-place behind Cardiff, but the French side's failure to collect a bonus-point means they miss out on the quarter-finals.