We saw a superb showdown in Paris, finishing France 30-24 Ireland
We witness an Ireland and France Six Nations Spectacular
Games like this one get seared into the memory – the sort of Six Nations teeth-rattler that has us chattering all the way over the upcoming fallow week and beyond.
France and Ireland put on a show in Paris. But in winning 30-24, les Bleus have commandeered the advantage in the race for a Six Nations trophy.
The match started at a pace that would have even spectators reaching for the oxygen mask, and within one minute that little scamp Antoine Dupont was nipping over for an opening score. Built on the sizeable foundations of an Uini Atonio carry and some sublime contact riding and offloading from Romain Ntamack, the French skipper made his way for the line with flag-toting French fans in raptures.
And with a couple of kicks in Melvyn Jaminet‘s back pocket, it all felt so far so bof for the Irish. Were they shellshocked? Well cowabunga, as Mack Hansen came flying in to destroy that sentiment – leaping to claim a kick right out of its flight path into Jaminet’s hands and darting in, snatching a vital Irish score.
France didn’t panic though, enjoying superiority into half-time. Ireland, on the other side, coughed up eight penalties in that first 40 minutes. The whistle went at 19-7 and we all wondered if the world would stop spinning for Ireland.
Whatever coach Andy Farrell said to his charges at the break took effect fairly sharpish in the second half.
In came tries for Josh van der Flier and the green pack – who hadn’t had the most comfortable of outings up front in the first half – worked themselves back into contention. Sure, the pressure was relentless at the ruck and the lineout, but this is a French outfit finely tuned for regular skirmishes and blitz work in defence. There is a reason dispatches from the French camp keep mentioning ‘high-intensity running.’
Yet back Ireland came again, through Jamison Gibson-Park. The game was thrumming.
From here on in, the crowd in Paris were given no reason to hold their voices.
Cyril Baille scored a real cracker of a short-burst try and Joey Carbery was finding his rhythm, kicking Ireland to within three points again. We even saw a second-row lace through an exceptional 50:22. This was a contest and one deserving of hype throughout the week.
But France were not to be denied and Jaminet’s kicking ensured that they stayed just far enough ahead, as he sent over his sixth of the evening.
Although smarting from a loss, Ireland cannot be too disheartened by the result. With Italy next on the slate for them, it’s a question of whether Farrell and his coaches stick, twist or just do a mini-shimmy when it comes to the next selection.
For France, following a week off they head to Scotland. After the Scots wounding loss in Cardiff, and with France in fine form, the big question is now: What will les Bleus do with their advantage?
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