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Harinordoquy savours Biarritz victory

Imanol Harinordoquy was delighted to turn the tables on Jonny Wilkinson as Biarritz edged out Toulon 21-18 to win the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Biarritz were kicked to victory by Dimitri Yachvili, who landed seven penalties in a faultless kicking display as the Basque outfit won their first European title. Wilkinson kept Toulon in touch with five penalty kicks of his own and a trademark drop-goal, but Toulon conceded a penalty late on that confirmed Biarritz's victory.

"Jonny Wilkinson has given a hard time to me in the past and he has done it to Dimitri as well - but tonight it was Dimitri who gave Toulon a difficult time," said Harinordoquy, the French number eight.

Biarritz had to win to qualify for the Heineken Cup for a 13th consecutive season after finishing ninth in the Top 14 in a disappointing domestic campaign.

For Yachvili, who tasted bitter defeat with France in the 2011 World Cup final, the victory was extra sweet.

"We have lost two Heineken Cup finals, in 2006 and 2010. This is not the Heineken Cup but it is a title for us," Yachvili said.

"It has been a very hard season and that is why we are very happy tonight. We never gave up. They tried to keep the ball for Jonny's drop goal but we defended very well. We deserved to win tonight. It would have been very sad to lose two finals in the same season."

Toulon were reduced to 13 men in the second half after Carl Hayman and Steffon Armitage were sin-binned and captain Joe Van Niekerk rued their discipline.

The South African number eight also regretted how Toulon had wasted their chance of a late drop goal to force extra time.

"Jonny was on song tonight. We had an opportunity there but we went one phase too many and it caused the obstruction," Van Niekerk said. "Overall our discipline let us down. Thirteen against 15, it's an uphill battle. All credit to the boys, they hung in there and showed a lot of heart."


From Belfast Telegraph