By Bea Asprey, Rugby World Writer
In a nutshell
France clawed their way back from an 11-point deficit to draw with Ireland in the rearranged RBS 6 Nations fixture at the Stade de France. The men in green started well, and Tommy Bowe scored two tries in the first half, silencing the French crowd. But Wesley Fofana scored his third Championship try in the 51st minute, and the swing in momentum saw France even the scores thanks to Morgan Parra’s boot. Ireland couldn’t convert a surge of pressure into points in the final quarter of the match, as France’s defence proved to be water tight.
Tommy Bowe intercepted Aurélien Rougerie’s try in the 13th minute and scored Ireland’s first try under the posts. It marked another slow start for France, and and got momentum rolling in the visitors’ favour.
Tommy Bowe scored his fourth and fifth tries of this year’s tournament, and showcased why he is regarded as one of the world’s most lethal finishers. He also defended well, but his own performance was no consolation for what the winger saw as a missed opportunity for Ireland. He said: “It’s difficult to score at the Stade de France but to come away with a draw was very disappointing. It feels more like defeat without doubt. We gave ourselves an opportunity to come away with a win and not to score a point in the second half was very disappointing.”
Room for improvement
Ireland scored more tries than France yet remained winless for the second year in a row. The number of penalties that were awarded to France will trouble Declan Kidney, and he will be looking closely at the team’s indiscipline before Scotland arrive in Dublin next weekend.
France head coach Philippe Saint-André: “The players came back from 6-17 down but in the dressing room after the game the state was not that of a draw, but more like France had lost the game.
France captain Thierry Dusautoir: “Coming back from 11 points behind is a great achievement but you can’t win when you give away 14 points like that. We knew Ireland would cause us problems around the rucks, and that was our main mistake.”
Ireland coach Declan Kidney: “I’m disappointed for the lads. They put in a huge effort and we believed in ourselves enough to play our own game. There have been seven or eight changes to the team that won the Grand Slam three years ago. We didn’t panic in the second half which was pleasing, but the more you do well, the more disappointing it is when you don’t finish with the result.”
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell: “There’s a big feeling of defeat and that there was an opportunity lost. We were disappointed with our second-half performance. It would’ve been nice to come out and score first, but France nearly won the World Cup and we knew they’d come out hard too. It was very frustrating.”
Ireland scored twice as many tries as France, but also conceded three times as many penalties – 12 to four – and even though Morgan Parra’s boot failed him at times, their indiscipline ultimately cost them the match.
France: Clement Poitrenaud (Lionel Beauxis 68); Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu; François Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Jean-Baptiste Poux (Vincent Debaty 53), Dimitri Szarzewski (William Servat 52), Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape (Lionel Nallet 61), Yoann Maestri, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Julien Bonnaire (Louis Picamoles 71), Imanol Harinordoquy.
Not used: Julien Dupuy, Maxime Mermoz.
Try: Fofana. Pens: Parra (4)
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D’Arcy (Ronan O’Gara 71), Andrew Trimble (Fergus McFadden 73); Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray (Eoin Reddan 59); Cian Healy (Tom Court 75), Rory Best (Sean Cronin 75), Mike Ross, Donncha O’Callaghan (Donncha Ryan 58), Paul O’Connell (capt), Stephen Ferris, Sean O’Brien (Peter O’Mahony 66), Jamie Heaslip.
Tries: Bowe (2). Cons: Sexton (2). Pen: Sexton.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)