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Make-Or-Break Time for Biarritz

8th December 2008

It is the moment of truth for Biarritz Olympique, they face a make-or-break showdown with Pool 6 leaders Cardiff Blues at Parc des Sports Aguilera on Saturday with an ominous eight-point gap between themselves and the Welsh region.

And captain Jerome Thion accepts that only a win can keep them in the quarter-final qualification race.

“There is no alternative for us but to win against Cardiff Blues on Saturday,” said the French international lock. “We have to aim for the quarter-finals because that stage means a lot and is vital for us this season.

“The Heineken Cup is different from the French championship, the commitment and the refereeing are also different, so we may be able to express ourselves differently too. I think now the domestic pressure is over, we can focus on the Heineken Cup and go for the quarters – and we can do it.

“In Cardiff in Round 3 we showed some good potential and an attacking game that we had not been able to provide in the last few months and it is reassuring to see those good things that came out of that game, although the score doesn’t quite reflect it.

“Now it’s down to us to go that extra mile and convert that energy into a good win on Saturday.

“The physical work achieved put aside, now we also have to look at our spirit and our new structure. We have a new coaching set-up and that also needs getting used to and we have to adapt to those new strategies now in place. The timing may not be ideal but we have no choice and we have to go with the flow.

“We had to change our frame of mind and question our attitudes, both individually and as a group, and hopefully our efforts will finally pay off.

“We left the Arms Park disappointed because we performed well in gaining territory, although we did make a lot of mistakes because we were so eager to play to our maximum, take chances and try things.

“Julien Peyrelongue was extraordinary and he allowed us to progress in the game but we lost because of a lack of discipline in our defensive game. It’s a shame because we had a very good start and our territorial and kicking games were solid.

“So, while the pressure came from both sides, Cardiff were better at handling it because we committed far more errors.

“However, we had worked a lot on our defence and we managed to apply that to the match and we definitely need another week of serious work in that respect to honour our opponents.

“Nothing’s lost yet as we got a losing bonus point and we are still in the race and up for it.

“Considering our difficult situation in our domestic championship we really want to make up for it in the European tournament, to compensate for our poor results because I believe we still have things to prove and that we can still achieve good results.

“Most of all, we want to put a smile back on our faces and regain some pride as, while we are frustrated by that lack of success in the Top 14 Orange, we do have the Heineken Cup to help us reach other ambitions.

“We would like to get our balance right and obtain some positive results in Europe and while we went close in Cardiff, with a little more effort and discipline we can win at home.”