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Yachvili architect of Ulster downfall

Biarritz maintained their unbeaten start in Pool 4 of the Heineken Cup with an emphatic bonus-point home victory over Ulster.

Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili was the architect for last season's finalists with a 15-point tally, including three penalties and three conversions.

Wing Takudzwa Ngwenya grabbed a brace of second half-tries, while Manuel Carizza and Sylvain Marconnet also crossed to seal maximum points for the French giants.

The result left big-spending Ulster empty-handed, despite late consolation scores from Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris.

Biarritz kicked off their European campaign with a vital away success at Bath, while Ulster claimed a bonus-point victory over Aironi in round one.


But this contest in the south-west of France had been billed as the biggest match in Ulster's recent history since lifting the trophy against Colomiers in 1999. The visitors had never won in France -- with just one draw from their 12 previous visits -- but travelled in high spirits following their unbeaten start to the Magners League season.

The hosts kicked off in the bright sunshine, but it the visitors who looked more ambitious in the early skirmishes. Andrew Trimble burst through in the ninth minute, but as fly-half Ian Humphreys threw a long pass intended for European debutant David McIlwaine, English referee Andrew Pearson pulled the game back for an earlier infringement.

Ruan Pienaar missed the opening penalty with a wayward strike from close range, but the South African scrum-half made amends in the 13th minute as he fired Ulster into the lead from an identical position. Biarritz -- who have scored the fewest amount of tries of any team in the Top 14 with nine -- rallied with a lengthy spell of possession, but Ulster displayed their strength up front as their defence held firm.

Simon Danielli limped off injured, but Ulster wasted a golden opportunity on the half-hour mark to score from an attacking scrum, when Pienaar's long pass was intercepted by Iain Balshaw.

And the visitors were punished by Yachvili, who levelled the scores with a 37th-minute penalty.

Even so, Brian McLaughlin's men should have scored the opening try of the match when No 8 Robbie Diack broke through only to be denied by a superb try-saving tackle from Dane Haylett-Petty.

But all the good work Ulster did in the opening period was undone as they fell behind in the 44th minute.

Yachvili was again in the thick of the action when he combined with Magnus Lund to send Ngwenya over for his opening try in the left corner.

Yachvili converted and added two penalties as Biarritz surged 16-3 ahead. The hosts increased the tempo as front-five forwards Carizza and Marconnet powered over either side of a neat score from Trimble for Ulster.

Wing sensation Ngwenya completed the perfect afternoon for Biarritz with the fourth try three minutes from the end and Ferris' try from a quick tap proved to only be a consolation.

Biarritz -- D Haylett-Petty (I Bolakoro 69), T Ngwenya, C Gimenez (A Mignardi 76), M Bond (D Traille 52), I Balshaw, J Peyrelongue, D Yachvili, E Coetzee (C Johnstone 68), B August (R Terrain 64), C Johnstone (S Marconnet 51), J Thion, M Carizza (F Faure 67), M Lund, S Vahafolau (B Guyot 40), I Harinordoquy (A Barozzi 69).

Ulster -- D McIlwaine, A Trimble, I Whitten, P Wallace, S Danielli (A D'Arcy 25), I Humphreys (N Spence 75), R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, BJ Botha (P McAllister 68), J Muller, T Barker (D Tuohy 52), P Wannenburg, S Ferris, R Diack (C Henry 61, A Kyriacou 75).

REF -- D Pearson (England).

Irish Independent