©INPHO/James Crombie Kieran Marmion (right) casts a glance at Dan Parks.
Heineken Cup
Marmion puts hero-worship to one side as he trumps Yachvili
The 20-year-old scrum-half was instrumental in Connacht’s 22-14 win over Biarritz.

A SECOND-HALF TURNOVER of Biarritz ruck ball was chipped up the line by Fetu’u Vainikolo and Robbie Henshaw hounded after it.

Biarritz’s American winger Takudzwa Ngwenya gathered the ball before being clattered by Henshaw.

Willie Falloon joined the fray and, along with Henshaw, won a Connacht scrum.

As Henshaw strode back to retake his position at fullback, a Connacht supporter shook his head and mused aloud that ‘the lad was doing his Leaving Cert in the summer’.

Kieran Marmion sat his final school exams 18 months ago but he will not face a harder test than going head-to-head with the inspirational French scrum-half, Dimitri Yachvili.

“I was expecting him to have a great game,” Marmion told, “He’s a great player so I wasn’t expecting anything less.”

Yachvili, he says, is one of his rugby-playing idols does he recall the 2006 Heineken Cup Final when Yachvili scored 14 points in a 23-19 loss to Munster?

“That was six years ago so I was probably 14 and watching it on television,” he recalled.

Backing it up

The 20-year-old, born in Wales but Irish qualified throw a Galwegian father and grandfather, was playing just his 13th game for Connacht on Friday night at the Sportsground.

The side, he explains, were aware of the physical challenge Biarritz would pose and was delighted with the narrow 10-9 half-time lead, providing the home side could build on it. He said:

We were in a good position at the break and didn’t want to let it slip. We knew the next score after half-time was crucial.

“We really wanted to focus on getting the next points and we did.”

Dan Parks converted the penalty chance that stretched Connacht’s lead before adding two more and a drop goal to secure the win.

“Dan is the best person I could have next to me in this season,” said Marmion. “He’s always there to help us and he’s great to have on the pitch. It’s like another coach on the pitch, to be honest. His game management is unreal and he’s so relaxed out there.”

Marmion has featured in two Irish Under-20 sides that have played in France, most recently in a freezing Grenoble, but he predicts a tougher test away to Biarritz next Friday.

He said, “[A return win] is very important in terms of the competition because we definitely have a chance of qualifying.

It’s a big opportunity so we have to back it up. To go over there and lose would just undo everything we have done.

He addded, “I’d say they were a bit shocked and there were a couple of names they did not recognise but I’d say they will do next week.”

As it happened: Connacht v Biarritz, Heineken Cup

Biarritz win was better than Quins but we want more – McCarthy

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