Despite scoring 12 tries in their first two Heineken Cup matches, Cardiff Blues had to rely entirely on the boot to maintain their position at the top of their group with a 21-17 win over Biarritz.
Biarritz dominated territorially and touched down twice, but five penalties by man-of-the-match Ben Blair and two drop goals by Nicky Robinson clinched the points for the home team.
The Blues were given an early warning when French international Damien Traille was just off target from five yards inside his home half.
But it was with the ball in hand that Biarritz - and Traille - opened the scoring. A dropped pass enabled the predatory Takudzwa Ngwenya to speed down the left touchline and two passes later Traille was over the line.
Instead of touching down immediately, however, he pulled free of Gareth Thomas' tackle and placed the ball nearer the posts, enabling short-range kicker Julien Peyrelongue to convert.
Blues full-back Blair kicked a penalty from wide out during a rare incursion into the Biarritz half, but the home side were lucky not to go further behind when US Eagles wing Ngwenya dropped the ball over the line thanks to a last ditch tackle by teenage opposite number Leigh Halfpenny.
Peyrelongue added three points when the Blues were offside in midfield, but Blair cancelled them out after full-back Benjamin Thiery became isolated when rashly trying to run from his own 22.
Blues fly-half Robinson dropped a goal with the last kick of the first half to give the score line a flattering look at the break.
An early penalty by Blair gave the Blues the lead for the first time, but the home side butchered a great opportunity to claim a try.
Scrum-half Jason Spice broke through, but number eight Andy Powell, one of the heroes of Wales' autumn international campaign, could not hang on to the pass.
But a much livelier Blues side kept up the pressure and were rewarded by another drop goal from Robinson.
Peyrelongue thought he had landed a drop goal of his own, but it was ruled out by the television match official after repeated replays. The Frenchman wasted no time lamenting his luck, spearing through after Fabien Cibray had darted wide from a scrum, and then converting his own try.
Blair quickly replied with a penalty after Powell had been taken out in a line out and was just short with another from halfway.
Biarritz lost Tongan prop Mosese Moala, prompting the return of previously replaced hooker Benjamin Noirot, resulting in uncontested scrums, and the Basques suffered a further setback when Blair slotted over his fifth penalty.
The Blues lost flanker Maama Molitika to the sin-bin for punching opposing skipper Jerome Thion, but the Welsh held out to the final whistle.