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Biarritz Olympique book semi-final place

Tuesday 31st January 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 31/01/2006 16:34

- 31/01/2006 16:34

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Biarritz Olympique book semi-final place

Tuesday 31st January 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 31/01/2006 16:34

- 31/01/2006 16:34

Biarritz Olympique booked their place in a third successive Heineken Cup semi-final after grinding out a nervous 11-6 win over Sale Sharks.

Sereli Bobo’s first-half try proved enough to send the French champions through to another clash against English opponents and a last four date with Bath.

Bobo went over after 32 minutes and Dimitri Yachvili added two penalties to edge a low-scoring but tense clash at San Sebastien’s Estadio Anoeta.

It was a bitter blow for Guinness Premiership leaders Sale who crashed to their second successive defeat in Europe after managing just two penalties from Charlie Hodgson either side of half-time.

But Biarritz’s victory at least means France will have representation in the last four of Europe’s premier club competition.

Both teams failed to fire in the 25-degree heat of northern Spain and while scoring opportunities were limited, neither kicker had a successful day in front of goal.

Yachvili missed with his first attempt before giving Biarritz the lead on 22 minutes after Jason White infringed at a ruck.

England’s Hodgson sliced an early drop goal and scuffed a penalty either side of his first goal that levelled the scores on 25 minutes after good work by Mark Taylor.

Yachvili’s second penalty regained the lead before Bobo crossed for the game’s only try.

Biarritz looked to have blown a scoring chance after failing to make an overlap count out wide following man of the match Imanol Harinordoquy’s break. Sale cleared the danger only for Biarritz to come storming back, opening space out wide for Bobo who evaded the lunging grasp of Mark Cueto to score.

It was to be the last score for 43 minutes in a full-blooded forward battle that left the game on a knife-edge until the final whistle.

Yachvili missed the conversion and was then sent to the sin bin by Irish referee Allan Lewis before the break while Sale twice turned down shots at goal only to come away empty handed from their efforts up front.

Damien Traille and Yachvili were both off target after Harinordoquy went close. Hodgson stopped the French flanker scoring and then struck a second penalty five minutes from time but  it was too little too late for the Sharks.

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