Sale had already beaten Biarritz in Round One at the AJ Bell Stadium last October but winning at Biarritz's home ground was a tough ask. The home side were struggling in their own domestic competition but were desperate to kick start their season. Included in the Biarritz line up was Magnus Lund who was given his debut by Steve Diamond back in 2002. Magnus was also a member of the Sharks side that won the Guinness Premiership in 2006 and scored the teams first try.
Sharks had trained well all week and flew out from Manchester to Bilbao the day before the game before taking a coach up the coast to Biarritz.
The heavens opened before the game and the pitch resembled a beach at low tide! Biarritz had to make one of the earliest substitutions ever seen when Vadim Cobilas smashed Lock Joshua Furno causing him to leave the field.
Tommy Taylor was sin binned after only five minutes as the game was being played out in farcical conditions. Indeed several Sharks fans reminisced about the game at Edgeley Park when Wasps refused to play! At scrum time Marc Jones came on and David Seymour made way.
Considering it was an away fixture the Sharks supporters were making more noise than the home supporters and this was lifting the players. Tom Brady put in a magnificent run through the home defence which took play deep into Biarritz territory. Both sides threw caution to the wind knowing they both needed maximum points from the fixture. Quick line outs and running rugby were very evident in the early stages.
The home side took the lead on 18 minutes when Ngwenya was on the end of a clever chip through by Peyrelongue to touch down 0-5. Peyrelongue converted the try from in front of the posts 7-0.
Sharks hit back within two minutes when Rob Miller struck a long range penalty to reduce the arrears to 3-7. Miller reduced the arrears even further on 25 minutes when he kicked his second penalty after Biarritz failed to release the ball in a ruck. 6-7.
One of the biggest problems the players were encountering was having to call for towels as the mud was getting into players faces and in the case of Ostrikov and Harrison, in their eyes.
Rob Miller had the chance to put Sale into the lead on 32 minutes but his kick hit the outside of the post and the ball bounced over the dead ball line 6-7.
On 36 mins Magnus Lund won a lineout for the home side and set up a driving maul which almost resulted in a try. Sharks conceded a penalty and from the reset scrum the ball went of play out for a lineout. Biarritz set up a driving maul but the Sharks defence held firm and came away with the ball!
Half Time Biarritz 7 Sale Sharks 6
Biarritz were straight out of the traps on the restart. The home side brought on veteran scrum half Yachvili as they attempted to try and build a lead. Sharks defence was equal to the assault though with a well drilled defence which Mike Forshaw must take most of the credit for.
Credit must go to both sides who were doing their best in atrocious conditions. Yachvili was busy in midfield as he tried to kick start his team but mistakes were cropping up all over the field due to the wet conditions.
Biarritz crossed the Sale line on 56 minutes when Synaeghel touched down but the referee deemed crossing had taken place and Nick Macleod cleared the danger.
On the hour mark it was becoming apparent that neither side was going to get a try bonus as the conditions were getting worse as the game progressed. Indeed if the rain was heading towards the UK it would bring amber weather warnings! Sharks started to use their replacements, one of whom was Henry Thomas who was on the field 115 seconds before he was yellow carded for going in from the side.
On 77 minutes Sale had the chance to win the game after Yachvili had strayed offside but Miller's kick drifted wide 6-7. A minute later Jon Mills was taken out by what looked like an elbow by a Biarritz forward. Sale were awarded a penalty which Miller converted to give Sharks a famous victory and a place in the Quarter Finals.
Final Score Biarritz 7 Sale Sharks 9
1 - Ross Harrison 2 - Tommy Taylor 3 - Vadim Cobilas (off 60mins, on for Braid 62-72mins) 4 - Andrei Ostrikov (off 55mins) 5 - Michael Paterson 6 - Dan Braid (off 62-72mins, 72mins) 7 - David Seymour (off 7-16mins) 8 - James Gaskell 9 - Dwayne Peel 10 - Nick Macleod 11 - Mark Cueto 12 - Sammy Tuitupou 13 - Johnny Leota 14 - Tom Brady 15 - Rob Miller
16 - Marc Jones (on for Seymour 7-16mins, on for Taylor 60mins) 17 - Eifion Lewis-Roberts (on for Harrison 60mins) 18 - Henry Thomas (on for Cobilas 60mins,) 19 - Jonathan Mills (on for Ostrikov 55mins) 20 - Mark Easter (on for Braid 72mins) 21 - Will Cliff (on for Peel 66mins) 22 - Danny Cipriani (on for Macleod 60mins) 23 - Andy Forsyth
Scoring Sequence: 5-0, 7-0, 7-3, 7-6 (Half Time) 7-9
|Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|