The Ospreys won 36-16 in Italy yesterday, against Treviso, but the Cardiff Blues' 10-6 Heineken Cup victory in Biarritz was much the bigger deal.
Winning in France, even against a team as out of sorts as Biarritz, is never easy. It is all to do with local bragging rights and the sanctity of clubs' stadiums – ask Leinster, surprised in Castres on Friday night – and that is all to do with how, back in the day, rugby took the place of the inter-village fights that used to provide all the fun down in the French south-west.
The Blues got a taste of all that yesterday as the Basques battered them in a second half played on, or rather in, a morass. There is, however, a steel to the Blues this season which was illustrated by Martyn Williams's effort to hold up the prop Eduard Coetzee over the line.
The unbeaten Blues, whose pre-regional predecessors shipped 75 points in Biarritz in 2003, stayed top of Pool Six, ahead of Gloucester, thanks to a Jamie Robinson try set up by Gareth Thomas's charge-down of Benjamin Thiery's kick and a conversion and a penalty from Ben Blair. Julien Peyrelongue and Damien Traille kicked penalties for Biarritz. All the points came in the first half.
The Ospreys are top of Pool Three, but only by a point from Leicester, who face Dan Carter – and the rest of a decent Perpignan side, though you might not know it – today. Yesterday, without Gavin Henson, whose umpteenth comeback was delayed for the birth of his second child, the Welsh side took a bonus point from a match that was nothing like as easy as the one they won 68-8 in Swansea last week.
Sonny Parker (twice), Jonathan Thomas, Alun-Wyn Jones and Filo Tiatia scored tries, James Hook kicking three conversions and a penalty and Dan Biggar a further conversion.
In the European Challenge Cup, Sam Tuitupou and Aleki Lutui scored tries as Worcester beat Bourgoin 27-6 at Sixways.Reuse content