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However, they survived with a sterling display of marking and tackling to hold on to the lead earned by Scotland stand-off Dan Parks.
Parks broke the deadlock with a seventh-minute penalty and added a second midway through the first half after his drop-goal attempt had struck the post.
It took 25 minutes for the Basques to surge into enemy territory and they capitalised with a 40-metre penalty from scrum-half Julien Dupuy.
Parks completed his penalty treble and there was a further bonus for the home brigade when Dupuy’s next attempt dipped under the crossbar.
Suddenly, the French stars clicked into gear and began to string together penetrative sequences.
Dupuy was off-target with an ambitious long-range penalty, but Biarritz grabbed the initiative and substitute scrum-half Chris O’Young foiled them by haring back to get the first touch to a teasing grubber kick by Julien Peyrelongue.
The action was frantic going into the final 10 minutes, with Parks going agonisingly close to snapping up an interception with Hefin O’Hare free on his shoulder.
Then came a moment of high controversy as Lome Fa’atau was adjudged to have felled Damien Traille with a late challenge.
That left the stage clear for Dupuy to narrow the gap with his simple penalty.
And then came the astonishing rearguard display which blocked out wave after wave of French raids.