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Biarritz begin with a win

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 10:07

- 09/10/2006 10:07

Last year’s beaten finalists Biarritz Olympique kick off the competition against former champions Northampton Saints, hoping to go one better in this year’s Heineken Cup.

Biarritz have an impressive home record in their six year history in the competition and last year’s French champions provide a daunting prospect for any team.

Faced with the challenge are Northampton Saints, return to Europe’s premier competition after a one-year absence.

The 2000 Heineken Cup winners have played Biarritz four times so far in the competition and honours are even with two wins apiece.

Sean Lamont and Ben Cohen have been named in the saints starting line-up, with the latter subject to a late fitness test on Saturday.

Hooker Steve Thompson also resumes his place in the front row following three weeks out with a calf strain, but Robbie Kydd pulled out today with a hamstring tear.

Saints coach Paul Grayson said: “The bad news is that Robbie Kydd has just injured his hamstring but Monty is back and we will fitness test Ben on Saturday. It is good to have them back but we still have a lot of reshuffling to do.”

Rob Laird will get his first start for the Saints in the place of Kydd and David Gerard will make his first start of the season in the place of injured Christian Short.

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Biarritz begin with a win

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 10:07

- 09/10/2006 10:07

Biarritz Olympique showed that they will again be leading contenders this season as they despatched a brave Saints side at Parc des Sports Aguilera.

Last season’s Heineken Cup finalists scored four tries in the first 45 minutes before going off the boil, and if Dimitri Yachvili had his kicking boots on, the damage could have been worse. As it was, the Saints were inches short of an injury-time bonus point for finishing within seven points.

Yachvili missed an early kick at goal and repeated the effort when trying to convert the game’s opening try, scored by Bobo after some terrific work at the breakdown from the Biarritz backrow.

The Fijian’s opposite number Johnny Howard, on the wing in the place of shoulder-injury victim Ben Cohen, gave the visitors their first points with a penalty goal on the quarter mark, but the Saints had no answer to a wave of attacks and backrower Mohammed Dridi doubled his side’s score with a try in the corner.

Scottish referee Malcolm Changleng began penalising the home side at the breakdown, but Howard missed a shot at goal from in front, and Chris Wyles ruined the next points-scoring opportunity with a knock-on.

The mistakes came back to haunt the Saints as Biarritz powered back upfield, and the impressive Bobo muscled his way over for his second try, awarded by the television referee. Yachvili missed his fifth shot at goal, and Howard followed suit as the home side took a deserved 15-3 lead into the break.

The French heavyweights secured a bonus point for four tries in the opening exchanges of the second spell, with hooker Benoit August being shoved over the line. The try brought the 11,000-strong crowd to their feet, and they stayed up to cheer Yachvili’s first goal of the afternoon.

With the bonus point in the bag, Biarritz shut up shop and simply defended until the Saints made their inevitable mistake.
The tactics worked until the 73rd minute, when a clever chip through from replacement Ian Vass was pounced on by Howard for the Saints’ opening try.

Howard’s superb sideline conversion made it a 12-point match and gave the visitors a sniff of a losing bonus point, but time ran out and Paul Grayson’s men were left to rue their poor finishing.

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