Updated: 08/12/2012 00:05 | By pa.press.net

Parks the spark for Connacht



Dan Parks led Connacht to a famous victory with his kicking

Dan Parks led Connacht to a famous victory with his kicking

Dan Parks was the driving force behind Connacht in their 22-14 victory as they claimed the scalp of French giants Biarritz in this evening's Heineken Cup clash at the Sportsground.

Parks kicked 17 points, including the conversion of Fetu'u Vainikolo's early try, to seal the province's second win in Pool Three.

Dimitri Yachvili kicked three penalties to leave the visitors 10-9 behind at the break, but Biarritz were decidedly brittle as Connacht's younger forwards outworked them. Although Imanol Harinordoquy came off the bench to score an injury-time try, Yachvili missed the conversion for a losing bonus point.

After Yachvili nudged Biarritz ahead, Vainikolo struck for a superbly-taken try that really lifted his team-mates and the vocal home crowd. David McSharry intercepted a pass from Charles Gimenez near halfway and offloaded for the Tongan winger to charge away for a score against the run of play.

Parks converted to put Connacht 7-3 ahead and the westerners missed out on a second try when Ireland lock Mike McCarthy failed to spot Robbie Henshaw looping around him in plenty of space. A series of penalties failed to budge the scoreline with the wind-backed Yachvili missing two shots at the posts, and Parks drifting a long-range attempt wide.

The Biarritz talisman was back on target at the midway point of the half, his second successful penalty following a decent bout of territory for the visitors.

But Connacht looked the more dangerous of the two sides off limited ball and Takudzwa Ngwenya had to concede a lineout as Tiernan O'Halloran chased hard. The hosts pressed and Parks took the drop-goal option, in front of the posts, to reopen the four-point gap.

However, the penalty count took its toll. Number eight Eoin McKeon was sin-binned for taking an airborne Iain Balshaw out and Yachvili snapped over a classy penalty to make it 10-9 at the interval. Biarritz failed to hammer home their numerical advantage, though, and Parks restarted the scoring in the second period with a penalty.

Biarritz introduced the fit-again Harinordoquy as they tried to reassert themselves, but strong carries from McSharry and Robbie Henshaw preceded another Parks three-pointer. Further chances came and in the final 10 minutes the former Scotland fly-half landed an inspirational drop goal and a third and final penalty.

Biarritz's game descended into niggly phases, with their questionable attitude and temperament resulting in a couple of scraps between the forwards. They did lift the tempo late on, powerhouse Harinordoquy piling over after O'Halloran was sin-binned during some desperate Connacht defence.

0Comments
10 reasons to make MSN UK your homepage (© Microsoft)

latest rugby news

  • South Africa were victorious at Ibrox

    New Zealand's incredible 30-game unbeaten streak at the Commonwealth Games was brought to a crashing halt as South Africa claimed a surprise gold medal success.

  • Fans have thronged to Ibrox for two days of rugby sevens competition at the Commonwealth Games.

    "The crowd loves us because we are the last kings of Scotland," grandly proclaimed Ugandan head coach Tolbert Onyango as the Ibrox stands tumbled with chants of support for his intrepid Rugby Cranes.

  • Scotland fans celebrate a try against New Zealand

    Scotland soaked up a football-crowd atmosphere as they stormed their way past Canada and into the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens quarter-finals in front of a packed out Ibrox.

  • Michael Cheika's men are through to the final

    The Waratahs booked their place in the Super Rugby final with victory over the Brumbies in Sydney.

  • Kieran Read scored the first try

    The Crusaders stormed into the Super Rugby final with a five-try demolition of the Sharks in Christchurch.

  • Colin Shaw is eager to please the home crowd

    Scotland Sevens player Colin Shaw is aiming to cap a once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing in a home Commonwealth Games with a medal.

  • Exeter begin their LV= Cup defence against Newport Gwent Dragons

    Exeter will open their defence of the LV= Cup next season with a trip to Wales.

  • Gareth Anscombe will hope to impress Wales head coach Warren Gatland, pictured,

    Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand.

  • Gregor Townsend, pictured, has added Rossouw de Klerk to his Glasgow Warriors squad for next season

    Glasgow Warriors will complete the signing of South African prop Rossouw de Klerk from Super 15 side the Cheetahs subject to a visa and medical, the club has announced.

  • London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell, pictured, has added James Down to his squad

    London Welsh have announced the signing of Cardiff Blues lock James Down.

  • Team Wales attache Ryan Jones, right, believes rugby sevens is due for a huge surge in popularity around the world

    Former Wales captain Ryan Jones believes rugby sevens is ready to touch new heights through its exposure at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

  • England's Tom Mitchell is hoping to claim the scalp of the All Blacks in the Glasgow 2014 Rugby 7s

    England rugby sevens captain Tom Mitchell believes the odds are in his side's favour as they bid to dethrone the All Blacks and claim their first Commonwealth gold.

  • Magnus Lund has signed for Aviva Premiership club Sale Sharks following six years with Biarritz

    Sale Sharks have announced the signing of former England flanker Magnus Lund.

  • Aurelien Rougerie was one of three Clermont Auvergne players attacked by an armed gang on Sunday morning

    Three Clermont Auvergne players have been hospitalised after being attacked with machetes and swords as they walked back to their hotel early on Sunday morning, the French club have announced.

  • Francois Steyn's place kicking proved the difference as the Sharks beat the Highlanders

    Accurate kicking from Francois Steyn helped the Sharks subdue a spirited Highlanders fightback to secure a Super Rugby semi-final against the Crusaders.