Bayonne's last gasp drop goal a killer for Biarritz
Bayonne's prop Nemiah Tialata (L) and fullback Scott Spedding celebrate after winning the French Top 14 rugby union match Biarritz Olympique Pays-Basque vs Aviron Bayonnais on March 2,2014 in Biarritz, France - by Gaizka Iroz
Matthieu Ugalde, who had come on late in the second-half to replace Stephen Brett, seized his chance to seal victory over the five-time French champions after the scrum had worked the ball back to him.
Victory took Bayonne onto 43 points, eight ahead of second from bottom Oyonnax, who have two games in hand on them but may take a while to recover from the 64-10 thrashing they received at the hands of Toulon on Saturday.
"I told the guys that we weren't just playing for ourselves, we were playing for the town of Bayonne," said emotional captain Mark Chisholm.
"It was a very tough match but we all stepped up to the plate, this is a very emotional moment for me and all of Bayonne," added the 32-year-old former Wallaby lock.
Ugalde said that while it was an important win, it wasn't deal done.
"We said before we had six finals ahead of us and we have won the first of those. As for my drop goal, well it was the magnificent forwards who set me up for it," said the 21-year-old.
Biarritz, who were European Cup finalists as recently as 2010, are 20 points off safety and even with a game in hand and six games remaining -- with an optimum 30 points to play for -- they look doomed after their eighth home defeat of the campaign.
The visitors started the brightest of the two sides and were rewarded for their enterprise when Brett landed a penalty in the third minute -- his opposite number Dan Waenga was not so accurate with his penalty 10 minutes later dropping short of the bar.
Bayonne, aided by a strong wind in the first-half, continued to run the ball despite the awful state of the pitch and extended their lead when former All Black star Joe Rokocoko went over after Marvin O'Connor had made the decisive break into the Biarritz 22.
It was the 30-year-old 68-times capped Kiwi's sixth try of the season but only Bayonne's fifth away from home -- Brett failed to convert to leave it at 8-0.
Biarritz's problems deepened soon afterwards when Seremaia Burotu was sin-binned for a high tackle on Rokocoko but they didn't concede a point, although Bayonne centre Santiago Fernandez should have run in a second try when he dallied too long before being wrestled into touch.
Indeed, by the end of Burotu's spell on the sidelines it was Biarritz who turned the pressure on the visitors but came away with nothing after choosing to take a scrum as a penalty rather than kick at goal and ended up giving the ball back to Bayonne.
Biarritz got back into the game in the 57th minute as several well worked phases of play saw them work the ball wide to Burotu, who fed American wing Takudza Ngwenya to touch down in the right hand corner for his fourth try of the campaign -- Waenga's conversion went wide to leave it 8-5 to Bayonne.
Veteran Dimitri Yachvili -- who along with fellow Biarritz icon Imanol Harinordoquy had started on the bench -- was introduced at that point and while the 33-year-old missed his first shot at goal, he drew the sides level on the hour mark with his second penalty attempt.
However, late Bayonne pressure eventually told and the winning drop goal even had former Biarritz legend and now club president Serge Blanco applauding despite the ramifications for his own club.