Heineken Cup: Connacht 22-14 Biarritz

Connacht's Dave McSharry and Tiernan O'Halloran tackle Marcelo Bosch of Biarritz
Connacht's Dave McSharry and Tiernan O'Halloran tackle Marcelo Bosch of Biarritz

Connacht clinched their first win over a French team in the Heineken Cup by beating Biarritz in Galway.

Tongan winger Fetu'u Vainikolo scored an early try for the Irish province with Dan Parks slotting over the conversion and landing a drop-goal.

Dimitri Yachvili's three penalties kept Biarritz in touch but Parks kicked two penalties and another fine drop-goal.

Back row Imanol Harinordoquy got a late try but Yachvili missed the conversion which would have reaped a bonus point.

The win lifted Connacht up to second place in Pool 3 behind Harlequins.

Connacht survived back row Eoin McKeon's sin-binning just before half-time and Tiernan O'Halloran's yellow card near the end proved immaterial.

It was a tremendous result for Eric Elwood's men, with Parks guiding a hard-running back-line and Mike McCarthy marshalling the young guns up front.

After Yachvili nudged Biarritz ahead, Vainikolo struck for a superbly-taken try that really lifted his team-mates and the vocal home crowd.

David McSharry intercepted a pass from Charles Gimenez near halfway and offloaded for the winger to charge away for a score against the run of play.

After two misses Yachvili landed his second successful penalty but Connacht hit back with Parks taking a drop-goal option, in front of the posts, to reopen the four-point gap.

Number eight McKeon was sin-binned for taking an airborne Iain Balshaw out and Yachvili snapped over a classy penalty to make it 10-9 at the interval.

Biarritz failed to hammer home their numerical advantage and Parks restarted the scoring in the second period with a penalty.

Biarritz introduced the fit-again Harinordoquy as they tried to reassert themselves, but strong carries from McSharry and Henshaw preceded another Parks three-pointer.

The former Scotland fly-half landed an inspirational drop goal and a third and final penalty to extend the lead to 22-9.

Biarritz lifted the tempo late on, powerhouse Harinordoquy piling over after O'Halloran was sin-binned during some desperate Connacht defence.

Connacht: Henshaw, O'Halloran, Poolman, McSharry, Vainikolo, Parks, Marmion, Wilkinson, Harris-Wright, Loughney, Kearney, McCarthy, Browne, Faloon, McKeon.

Replacements: Jarvis for Henshaw (80), Nikora for Parks (78), O'Donohoe for Marmion (60), Buckley for Wilkinson (60), Reynecke for Harris-Wright (78), O'Connor for Faloon (70).

Not used: Cooney, Qualter.

Sin bin: McKeon 37, O'Halloran (80).

Biarritz: Balshaw, Ngwenya, Gimenez, Bosch, Brew, Berquist, Yachvili, Barcella, August, Gomez Kodela, E. Lund, Dubarry, Lauret, Guyot, Lakafia.

Replacements: Burotu for Bosch (41), Barraque for Berquist (52), Blaauw for Barcella (63), Genevois for August (70), Synagehel for Gomez Kodela (60), Taele for Dubarry (48).

Not used: Harinordoquy, Lesgourgues.

Att: 8,000

Referee: Greg Garner (RFU)