Back-rower Steffon Armitage kicks the winning penalty

Biarritz win penalty shootout to secure Top 14 promotion

After 110 minutes of match action, the play-off to decide who plays in the Top 14 next season between Bayonne and Biarritz was decided by a penalty shootout. And the decider threw up an unexpected hero as back-rower Steffon Armitage scored the decisive penalty to send Biarritz up.

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After the 113th Basque derby ended at 6-6, it went to kicks from the 22m-line. Both sides slotted five penalties apiece, before  Bayonne centre Aymeric Luc sent his wayward. It fell to Biarritz captain Armitage to knock over the telling penalty, winning the tie 6-5 and sending Bayonne down into the ProD2.

The moment drew memories the Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers Penalty Shootout to decide the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final. That day, Leicester No 8 Jordan Crane stepped up to slot the winner, after Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams missed his. The similarity was not lost on Crane who tweeted Armitage afterwards, with the line: “Welcome to the club.”

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After the match Biarritz coach Shaun Sowerby said: “We told the players before the penalty shootout that they had been lions. That they had shown a lot of courage.

“I feel for the Bayonne team. It’s cruel, but that’s sport.”

On the other side, Bayonne coach Yannick Bru said: “Neither team really took the initiative, so it became a stalemate. The psychological dimension suffocated the game.

“The result is dry, cold and hard on Aviron Bayonne.”

Perpignan have already been promoted to the Top 14 after beating Biarritz in the ProD2 final.

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