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Video: Steffon Armitage wins Biarritz Top 14 promotion with sudden death shootout kick

By Liam Heagney

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Former England back row Steffon Armitage was the toast of Biarritz on Saturday night after his penalty kick in a post-match penalty shootout following a 6-6 draw was decisive in his club’s dramatic victory over local rivals Bayonne in the Top 14 promotion/relegation playoff. 

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Having lost last weekend’s Pro D2 final against Perpignan, Biarritz didn’t let their second opportunity to secure promotion slip in a historic Basque derby that pitted the tier-two beaten finalists against the 13th place team in the Top 14. 

Biarritz led 3-0 at half-time thanks to a Gilles Bosch penalty but the match was forced into extra-time by an equalising kick from Bayonne’s Maxime Lafage. The stalemate continued in extra-time, James Hart’s penalty kick for the home side matched by Gaetan Germain’s 94th-minute reply. 

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With the final ultimately finishing drawn at six-all, it was left to a kicking competition where players took kicks from the 22 in front of the posts to decide the winner. All ten kicks initially taken were scored, former All Blacks centre Francis Saili getting the last to force the contest to sudden death before Bayonne cracked with the eleventh kick of the shootout, Aymeric Luc sending his kick wide of the target. 

That left Armitage, the Biarritz skipper, as the next man up and the 35-year-old back-rower, who has five England caps to his name, became the home team hero, his kick going between the uprights to spark wild celebrations.  

It didn’t take long for Armitage to revel in the novelty of winning a match in this unusual manner. Jordan Crane, the now-retired forward, kicked Leicester into the 2009 Heineken Cup final when their semi-final at the Millennium Stadium against Cardiff when into sudden death in a penalty shootout. 

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Eleven years later Crane was quick off the mark, posting the video of Armitage’s kick and tweeting: “Welcome to the club.” Armitage replied: “Was thinking of you the whole time!!” 

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Video: Steffon Armitage wins Biarritz Top 14 promotion with sudden death shootout kick

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