Belfast Telegraph

Biarritz blitz a warning to Ulster

By Ciaran Donaghy

Ulster must take a leaf out of Biarritz's book when it comes to exacting revenge on your opponent.

Brian McLaughlin's men will clash with the French club at Ravenhill in mid-January. The winners will top of Pool 4 in the Heineken Cup and barring any freak results in the final round of matches book a place in the quarter-finals — a feat Ulster haven't achieved since winning the trophy in 1999.

Nothing, however, can be taken for granted as while Ulster were grinding out a win at Ravenhill over Bath one of the greatest shocks in Heineken Cup rugby was occurring in Italy as Aironi marked their first season in the competition with an unexpected win over last year's beaten finalists Biarritz.

The Basque side made no mistake in the in last Friday night's return, duly taking the five points they were expected to and with Ulster's win in Bath, Biarritz now lead the group by three points going into the Belfast show down.

Ulster capitulated in the second-half of the at the Parc des Sports Aguilera conceding 32 points and four tries as Biarritz ran out 35-15.

Biarritz captain and French No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy was delighted to get the five points in their revenge mission over Aironi but knows his troops must improve before coming to Ravenhill.

“The conditions were rough and the opponent also, they showed that we had to take them seriously,” said Harinordoquy.

“Our fight and aggressiveness gave us the tempo in the first 20 minutes to make two tries.

“We kept things more simple in second period and went to look for this fourth try, to give us the bonus point, which we got.

“I am happy with the performance of the players, it was not perfect,but it was necessary to beat them.”

Ulster have lost all three previous meeting with Biarritz in Europe. The only time the French side have previously visited Ravenhill was four years ago when they followed up a 33-19 home with a 24-8 triumph in Belfast.

Dimitri Yachvili was Ulster's tormentor in chief that night as he scored 16 points, the French scrum half went over for a try and kicked a conversion and three penalties and he believes Biarritz must put the shock Aironi defeat behind them if they are to progress.

“It was necessary to even the scores with Aironi. This is done, now we have to continue to forge ahead and forget what happened in Italy, said Yachvili.

Belfast Telegraph


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