Yachvili shines to send Gloucester tumbling out

Biarritz 24 Gloucester 10
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The Independent Online

Gloucester slipped out of the Heineken Cup with barely a whimper after succumbing to a rejuvenated Biarritz. Dean Ryan's side failed to show enough willing in heavy conditions at a rain-lashed Parc des Sports Aguilera, and even less guile to find a way through.



James Simpson-Daniel did manage a score before half-time but his opportunities were few as Gloucester succumbed to both the elements and the physical Biarritz pack.

After falling 17-0 behind early on, the West Country side drew a blank in the second half, summing up their lacklustre European bid, while injuries to second-rows Alex Brown and Will James, adding to a considerable sick list, could seriously hamper their Guinness Premiership campaign.

After their big-name nerves resurfaced at Kingsholm against Cardiff Blues last week, Gloucester knew anything less than maximum points would spell another premature end to their European ambitions.

However, they looked fragile again after 20 minutes, with Mike Tindall forced to withdraw before kick-off for the second week in a row and Biarritz in control having seized the initiative.

The conditions were hardly befitting of the beach resort in the south of France, but Biarritz gave Gloucester a lesson in wet-weather rugby to surge into a 17-0 lead.

The rejuvenated No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy and the irrepressible Dimitri Yachvili combined to hammer Gloucester onto the back foot. Iain Balshaw got his claws on American flyer Takudzwa Ngwenya following a stunning length of the field counter-attack, but after Olivier Azam lost a gamble with the lineout, Harinordoquy crashed over from close range.

Yachvili converted, to add to his early penalty, and then combined with the former France No 8 to strike Gloucester with a second blow, poking his kick ahead before finishing expertly.

Trailing by 17 points after as many minutes, Gloucester were already chasing the game and were rewarded for declining to go for goal with a penalty when Matthew Watkins and Olly Barkley combined to open up enough space for Simpson-Daniel to weave through.

Fijian flanker Apo Satala was shown a yellow card for clearing up after Barkley's mistake almost opened the door for another Biarritz try, but his penalty reduced the arrears to 17-10. Damien Traille ended the half in the sin bin for tripping Balshaw, only for Barkley to push the penalty wide.

Having blown the opportunity against 14-man Cardiff, it was no surprise that Ryan's men wasted another advantage and having failed to make an impact during the 10-minute suspension, they gifted Biarritz a third.

Gloucester already looked shaky in their own half before Willie Walker was charged down by opposite number Julien Peyrelongue who had plenty of time to touch down.

Gloucester lacked intensity or direction and as a result, their campaign petered out. James was the only player to raise a fist in anger, exchanging blows with Jerome Thion, who was shown a yellow card, before the Gloucester lock limped off to add to their injury woes.

Biarritz: Tries: Harinordoquy, Yachvili, Peyrelongue. Conversion: Yachvili (3). Penalty: Yachvili. Gloucester: Try: Simpson-Daniel. Conversion: Barkley. Penalty: Barkley.

Biarritz: D Traille; P Bidabe, A Masi, L Tranier, T Ngwenya; J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili (capt); F Barcella (B Bourrust, 61), B August (B Denoyelle, 72), C Johnstone (E Coetzee, 62), C Damiani (J Roidot, 72), M Carizza (J Thion, 49), S Vahafolau, I Harinordoquy (P Som, 49), T Hall.

Gloucester: O Morgan; I Balshaw, M Watkins, O Barkley, J Simpson-Daniel; W Walker (A Allen, 60), G Cooper (R Lawson, 49); A Dickinson (N Wood, 49), O Azam (A Titterrall, 70), C Nieto, W James (A Eustace, 78), A Brown , A Strokosch, L Narraway (capt), A Satala.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

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