Biarritz started the day needing to score 13 tries to reach the Heineken Cup quarter-finals – and they achieved their remarkable target with a humiliating 75-25 demolition of a woeful Cardiff side. The France wing, Philippe Bernat-Salles, was the local hero with the 13th touchdown in added time at the end of the second half.
The result means that Cardiff chalked up an unwanted 100 per cent record in Heineken Cup matches this season – six defeats from six matches – and the 50-point margin of defeat was by far their heaviest since European rugby began.
In Bourgoin, the Forest brothers ended Sale's miserable Heineken Cup campaign as it started – with a defeat to consign them to bottom of Pool Three. Full-back Anthony Forest picked up two well taken tries while older brother, the scrum-half Mikael, added a try late in the second half. But it was outside half Alexandre Peslier who proved the real thorn in Sale's side, kicking 18 points including two first-half drop goals. A third-minute try from hooker Noel Curnier set the pattern of the game as he drove over following a forward surge.
At St Helen's, Swansea launched a brave fightback against Montferrand but it proved too little, too late as they lost 24-19. The centre Steve Winn managed to touch down in a scramble in the 76th minute after the Swansea pack had led an assault on the French line. Outside-half Arwel Thomas slotted over the conversion but Montferrand deservedly managed to hold on. The defeat left Swansea at the bottom of Pool Five with only one win – over Bristol – to their name.
Swansea got off to the worst possible start as Montferrand scored two tries in the first eight minutes through wing Jimmy Marlu and centre Johnny Ngaumo. The France outside-half Gerald Merçeron, rightly named man-of-the-match, added one conversion and proceeded to slot four penalties.
Thomas kept Swansea in the game, landing three penalties to pull them back to 12-9 behind at half-time, and he added a fourth early in the second half. But Thomas could only watch and admire the craft of Merçeron who dictated the game with his tactical kicking.
Newport and Edinburgh scored five tries apiece in an entertaining match at Rodney Parade and Perpignan beat a brave Viadana side 39-35, with the Italian minnows coming within a try of recording their first European victory.
In the Parker Pen Shield, Caerphilly progressed to the semi-final despite a 15-10 defeat against Rugby Parma in Italy.
The result means the Castletown Men progress through by eight points thanks to their 41-28 victory at Virginia Park last weekend.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies