Biarritz pour on power to shatter Scarlets' hearts

Llanelli Scarlets 10 Biarritz 27
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The Independent Online

Llanelli Scarlets saw their European ambitions shattered yet again after being out-played and out-muscled by Biarritz at here last night.

Llanelli Scarlets saw their European ambitions shattered yet again after being out-played and out-muscled by Biarritz at here last night.

The Scarlets have been beset by a catalogue of misfortune during the history of the Heineken Cup, but their coach, Gareth Jenkins, and the passionate home crowd can have little argument over the outcome of this quarter-final after losing out to a side far more adept at taking their chances.

Stephen Jones's try closed the gap to 15-10 and set up a thrilling climax but as the Scarlets rallied they failed to make the most of their opportunities: Mark Taylor squandered two gilt-edged chances in particular, before Biarritz broke free in the closing stages.

"We're hugely disappointed but I think we have to accept that we were beaten by a better side," Jenkins said. "At this level of rugby it's all about making the most of the opportunities that come along and that was the difference between us. They created three half-chances and took them superbly: we created two excellent chances and didn't. At the end of the day that's what counts."

The scoreline was somewhat harsh on the Scarlets who were hit late on by tries from Nicolas Brusque and Phillipe Bernat-Salles in the final three minutes. But by then the chance had gone.

Even at this fiercely passionate ground, Biarritz made a mockery of the belief that French sides do not travel well and it was the Scarlets, even at 5-3 down, who went into the break the more satisfied having spent almost the entire half on the back foot.

Jones and Yachvili missed early shots at goal in the second half and it was not until the 39th minute that the deadlock was finally broken. Despite facing an all international pack the French had possessed the greater muscle power up front and it was that, combined with sheer bloody mindedness that edged them over.

David Couzinet's burst set up camp at the foot of the Scarlets' line from where they launched a series of surges from the base of the scrum. Three times they went over the line, twice denied by the video referee, before Couzinet peeled off yet another drive to score at the fourth attempt.

Any thoughts of a Scarlets comeback were dashed when Brusque stretched over on 47 minutes. The arrival of Leigh Davies galvanised the Scarlets attack and set up Jones's try but it was a brief highlight in a frustrating night for the Scarlets.

Llanelli Scarlets: Try: S Jones. Con: S Jones. Pen: S Jones. Biarritz: Tries: Brusque 2, Couzinet, Bernat-Salles. Cons: Yachvili 2. Drop goal: Peyrelongue.

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies, Evans, Taylor, Watkins, Finau, S Jones, Peel, I Thomas, McBryde, J Davies, Cooper, Wyatt, D Jones, Easterby, Quinnell. Replacements: Thiel, A Gravelle, A Jones, Hodges, Phillips, G Bowen, L Davies.

Biarritz: Brusque, Bidabe, Gaitan, Isaac, Marlu, Peyrelongue, Yachvili, Balan, Gonzales, Avril, Manent, Couzinet, Betsen, Tonita, T Lièvremont.

Replacements: Campo, Fitzgerald, Puleoto, Nauroy, Chouchan, Bernat-Salles, Mazas.

Referee: C White (Eng).