Gloucester given a French lesson by tough-tackling Biarritz blitz

Gloucester 31 Biarritz 41

Kingsholm

A week ago, Gloucester took on Harlequins in a Premiership foot race and ended up running the quickest side in the country off their feet. Last night, they ran head first into something very different: a Biarritz side armed with a heavy-duty tackling game and some express pace of their own in the aerodynamic shape of the United States international wing Takudzwa Ngwenya. It did not end happily for the West Countrymen, whose Amlin Challenge Cup campaign collapsed around their ears.

Biarritz, the reigning champions, are hardly the most enigmatic of French sides– all too frequently, their rugby is nowhere near interesting enough to qualify as mysterious – and when the marvellous scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili is not on duty, they are not among the most successful, either. But Yachvili would not have missed this one for the world: he cut his professional teeth after joining Gloucester from a low-grade Parisian club and from the moment he took the field, it was clear he was relishing the chance to renew acquaintances with the fans in the Kingsholm Shed.

For a few minutes at the start, he must have feared the worst. Freddie Burns, watched by both the British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland and the England boss Stuart Lancaster, created a lovely opening try for Mike Tindall with a clever delayed pass, and with the in-form flanker Akapusi Qera running hot, the West Countrymen looked well set for the challenge.

But there were early signs that the Basques fancied it every bit as much as their hosts. Damien Traille’s early drop goal in reply to a 10th-minute penalty from Burns had an air of intent about it and Ngwenya’s heavy tackle on Jonny May told Gloucester all they needed to know about the seriousness of the contest. By the end of the first quarter Biarritz were only a couple of points adrift – Yachvili’s long penalty was unnervingly well struck – and after Ngwenya hit the turbocharger to break the home side’s defence down the left, his one-handed pass was good enough to give his fellow wide man Teddy Thomas a route to the line.

Then, the Basque forwards took charge. Well aware of Gloucester’s weakness in the tight five and given further incentive by Koree Britton’s yellow card for taking out Yachvili in the air, they drove a maul fully 20 metres to give their half-back and principal inspiration the chance to chip perfectly for Thomas, lurking in the left corner. The touchdown was a formality.

That was by no means the end of it. Five minutes later, another churn  upfield by the heavy mob resulted in a try for the front-row forward Arnaud Heguy. All Gloucester could offer in response was a brace of penalties from Burns and they turned around in something of a state.

Another Burns penalty six minutes into the second half dragged the home side back to within 10 points and gave them a smidgen of hope, but when Ngwenya ran a ball out of defence off an advantage for a knock-on, Gloucester were shredded once again. This time, he off-loaded to the centre Benoit Baby, who jogged over for a try converted by Yachvili.

It put Biarritz over the hills and far away, to the extent that Seremaia Burotu’s close-range try six minutes from time was nothing more than an exercise in rubbing it in, and late home scores for Shane Monahan and Huia Edmonds a complete irrelevance.

Scorers: Gloucester: Tries: Tindall, Monahan, Edmonds. Conversions: Burns 2. Penalties: Burns 4. Biarritz: Tries: Thomas 2, Heguy, Baby, Burotu. Conversions: Yachvili 5. Penalty: Yachvili. Drop goal: Traille.

Gloucester: M Thomas (S Monahan, 65); C Sharples, H Trinder, M Tindall (capt, R Cook, 69), J May; F Burns, D Lewis (D Robson, 50); N Wood (D Murphy, 57), K Britton (H Edmonds, 54), D Chistolini (Y Thomas, 68), L Lokotui (A Hazell, 61), W James, T Savage, A Qera, S Kalamafoni (G Evans, 75).

Biarritz: M Bosch (C Gimenez 67); T Ngwenya, B Baby (P Couet-Lannes, 69), D Traille (S Burotu, 52), T Thomas; J-P Barraque (Y Lesgourgues, 67), D Yachvili; E Van Staden (T Synaeghel, 57), A Heguy (B August, 57), F Gomez Kodela (B Broster 57), E Lund (P Taele, 67), M Marie, T Molcard, R Lakafia, I Harinordoquy (capt).

Referee: J Lacey (Ireland) rep: D Phillips (Ireland) 33.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?