Biarritz sent a stark warning to Ulster with a phenomenal 10-try win in the French Top 14 Championship at the weekend.
Just days ahead of their trip to Ravenhill to meet Ulster in the potentially crucial game in Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup, the Basque club produced a stunning 65-22 rout of struggling Agen, to move into the top four in France and also into top form. It put them only three points away from second place.
Flanker Wenceslas Lauret and hooker Benoit August each grabbed a hat-trick of tries, the latter getting three for the first time in his career in any game. Other tries came from flying USA wing Taku Ngwenya (2), centre Damien Traille and prop Alexandre Barozzi.
Biarritz led 34-3 at half time and goal kicker Dimitri Yachvili landed six conversions and a penalty goal. It was an ideal warm-up for Yachvili who is sure to be Biarritz’s No. 1 goal kicker at Ravenhill. And Biarritz President Serge Blanco immediately linked the win to the upcoming clash with Ulster this Saturday.
“I am satisfied” said Blanco. “This is a wonderful way to prepare for the Heineken Cup match next weekend which we know will be so important. “I think that after the (Heineken Cup) defeat in Italy (to Aironi), the boys understand the lesson of it and that they feel good since then. The confidence is returning to the dressing room.”
But Biarritz attack coach Jack Isaac warned that next weekend will be very different. “Playing at home is a lot different to going away in the Heineken Cup, especially to a place as difficult as Ravenhill. “It will be a completely different game next weekend of course, but even so this was an ideal way to prepare for the match against Ulster, especially after two away defeats in the last 10 days.”
Biarritz captain Imanol Harinordoquy said: “We played in the right way; we are where we want to be.”
However, the big international back row player bemoaned the slack defence which allowed Agen to score two tries in the final three minutes. “We have to work on that” he said. “But overall, I would say we are on the right road.”