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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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WE WERE IN GALWAY for the visit of Dimitri Yachvili and his Biarritz teammates took on Connacht.

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Connacht 22-14 Biarritz

Warm greetings one and all. Welcome to the Sportsground in Connacht. TheScore.ie is perched up on the ‘media bench’ in the Clan Stand. Both teams are on the pitch for last-minute warm-ups.

Let’s get you started with the two teams:

Connacht: R Henshaw; T O’Halloran, D Poolman, D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks (capt), K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, R Loughney, M Kearney, M McCarthy, A Browne, W Faloon, E McKeon.

Replacements: E Reynecke, D Buckley, J Cooney, D Qualter, J O’Connor, P O’Donohoe, M Nikora, M Jarvis.

Biarritz Olympique: I Balshaw; T Ngwenya, C Gimenez, M Bosch, A Brew; M Berquist, D Yachvili (capt): F Barcella, B August, F Gomez Kodela, E Lund, T Dubarry, W Lauret, B Guyot, R Lakafia.

Replacements: JP Genevois, T Synaeghel, W Blaauw, P Taele, i Harinordoquy, Y Lesgourgues, JP Barraque, S Burotu.

PENALTY! Connacht 0-3 Biarritz (Yachvili, 2′) 3-0 to Biarritz after an early Yachvili penalty.

TRY! Connacht 7-3 Biarritz (Vainikolo, 6′) Connacht’s pressure pays off. The ball’s knocked loose in the tackle, Dave McSharry pounces and sets Vainikolo free to run it in for the opening try.

Parks adds the extras and it is now 7-3.

There was a great chance for a second try but McCarthy chose not to pass to Henshaw. He is penalised but Yachvili misses the penalty from halfway.

Parks gets a chance to extend the home lead but his kick does not have enough gas.

The home crowd are livid as another penalty is conceded but Yachvili chips wide and right. 17 minutes gone.

7-6 To Connacht as Yachvili nails a 40 metre effort. A few scrum resets before the penalty goes Connacht’s way. Parks kicks for touch. Lineout secured. Play goes out wide right and O’Halloran is narrowly denied.

10-6 Connacht as Parks lands a drop goal from close range.

Nice defence from Henshaw and O’Halloran snuffs out a French attack and Parks punts clear. Henshaw then claims a super high ball but Connacht are whistled at the breakdown again.

A Buckley knock on gives Biarritz the scrum but they give one straight back. Henshaw with a couple of good breaks as Biarritz flirt with offsides and penalties.

YELLOW CARD for Eoin McKeon for taking out an airborne Yachvili. The out-half then lands a penalty to make it 10-9 Connacht after 39 minutes.

HALF TIME. The ref is booed loudly into the shed. Great effort from the home side so far.

A tendency to kick away possession too much and some less than satisfactory refereeing is keeping Biarritz in touch. Can Connacht kick-on in the second half?

Here come Connacht for the second 40, led out by Parks and looking focused. Connacht kick us off.

Vainikolo’s chip to the corner doesn’t find touch and Balshaw clears. Henshaw has the ball knocked from his grasp by a bone-jarring tackle but Biarritz knock-on and Eric Elwood’s men press upfield.

Ngwenya very lucky not to concede a five metre lineout after some sloppy handling. Harinorduquy gets ready to enter the fray but Connacht have an attacking scrum first and McSharry bursts up the centre. Biarritz offside again and advantage given so Parks tries and fails with a drop goal.

Play comes back for the penalty and McKeon is back on. Good news all round as Parks gets it – Connacht 13-9 Biarritz

Outrageously good burst from Vainikolo and his flicked offload finds Poolman. He is hauled down by the neck and the crowd are baying for a penalty. Their appeals, not for the first time, fall on deaf ears. Biarritz have a defensive lineout on their 5m line. 49 minutes gone.

That McSharry lads is tenacious. He takes on the French forwards and knocks a couple back. Illegal entry to the ruck gives Parks another kick at the posts. No mistake and it is Connacht 16-9 Biarritz

We had meltdown there as Harinordoquy nearly choked Marmion to death after a messy scrum broke down. Mike McCarthy came to the rescue and the two forwards traded a solid blow each before 20 players got into the mosh. Stern words but no action taken.

Buckley and O’Donoghue come on as Parks pins the French side back with some fine tactical kicking in behind and into the corners. Warm applause for Wilkinson and Marmion. Attendance is 6,583 – there ya go!

20 minutes to go but Eric Elwood and the 6,000 odd Connacht fans will want some insurance points. Seven would do nicely.

Connacht have a penalty out left but Parks can’t find the perfect connection and it slips wide. The home scrum destroyed the French front eight to earn the penalty kick. Super effort so far – 16 minutes remain and O’Halloran’s pass is too high for Henshaw so advantage swings back to Biarritz.

The only change Connacht are getting is the short stuff. Clear knock-on not given inside their 22 as Biarritz press for a seven-pointer to level affairs. The home fans are close to silent for a few moments before bellowing their support and lambasting the referee. Tense times in Galway but a knock-on saves their bacon this time.

Ill discipline does for the latest Biarritz comeback attempt as two players go off their feet at the breakdown. Parks clears as Fields of Athenry gets an outing. 10 minutes remain.

McCarthy with a huge tackle on Lund as he wraps up the lock and effects the choke tackle. He wins his team an attacking scrum 40 metres out. Browne off for the home side and O’Connor on.

DROP GOAL! Parks, you beauty. He spirals over a 40-metre drop goal to make it Connacht 19-9 Biarritz with seven minutes to go.

Vainikolo lashes a kick up the sideline to set Connacht off on another adventure. Henshaw is in rapid support to pounce on Lauret. Biarritz try to break free but the westerners are throwing their bodies on the line to keep them at bay. Four minutes to go now and we have a scrum in the French half.

Could be game over here. The Connacht front row win ANOTHER penalty in the scrum and Parks has a chance to pput this te out of sight. Three minutes to go now.

Parks penalty is sweet and good. Connacht 13 up with a minute to go.

TMO as Biarritz try to salvage a bonus point at the death. Connacht have won though. Epic stuff.

TRY. It is given and Biarritz get the score. Yachvili misses the conversion, which is effectively a bonus point kick. Connacht win 22-14. FULL-TIME

Great stuff there from Connacht. Balshaw is the last to trot off, leaving the pitch free for applause of gratitude from the victors. We will pop into the media shack to get you some post-match reaction. We will have all the comments and reactions on a memorable night in Galway. Cheers for the company.

About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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