By Bea Asprey
In a nutshell
France remain winless in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations as their visit to Dublin resulted in a draw. On a wet, grey day in the Irish capital, the hosts were the ones who initially looked to be gritting their teeth, and were rewarded on the scoreboard in the first half, earning a 13-3 lead by half-time. Ireland came out of the changing room full of confidence at the start of the second half, only to lose their way in the third quarter of the game. With the French kicking duties switching between Frederik Michalak and Morgan Parra – the French clawed their way back to prevent suffering their fourth loss of the tournament.
Louis Picamoles’s physicality saw him burst over the line in the 74th minute. Having been inconsistent throughout the game with the boot, Michalak stepped up to slot the conversion and level the scores. Picamoles stepped in again to beat Keith Earls to the try line in the final minutes of the match, preventing the winger from scoring a winning try for Ireland.
Fly-half Paddy Jackson answered his critics and played with a confidence he simply did not possess at Murrayfield. He kicked well on a gusty day, and though every boot did not result in points on the board, he took on the challenge each time with no hesitation.
Jamie Heaslip – Declan Kidney’s decision to hand the No 8 the captain’s armband has been criticised, and the Leinster man has been uncharacteristically quiet until today. The game’s only try-scorer, he was the driving force behind a physical Irish pack.
Conor Murray – for all the talk about Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs and Danny Care, the Munsterman put his hand up today. His box kicking was solid, and his Man of the Match performance will have caught the eye of Warren Gatland.
Donnacha Ryan was the king of the lineout, winning eight for the hosts and proving to be a real competitive threat in the air. They won 88% of their lineouts, compared to France’s 82%. But Ireland’s scrum enjoyed a slim 33% success rate compared to France’s 78%, winning just 2 compared to France’s 7. Louis Picamoles was the top ball carrier with 13 carries, and also made 83 metres. But Ireland will be frustrated to have had the majority of the game’s territory and possession, but come away without a win, for the second week in a row.
Philippe Saint-Andre: “We are really disappointed with our Six Nations, but at least we don’t have to play for the wooden spoon. We have changed nearly 70% of the team, and this team needs to learn. The Six Nations is tough, and we showed a lot of character and commitment to come back.
“Michalak has been playing for 15 months without a break, he’s probably played 40-45 games and you can’t be on top of your game when you’ve played 40 games. I back him 100%. Sometimes you win with your kicker and sometimes you don’t.”
Declan Kidney: “Frustration is the word. One or two thing go your way, and others won’t, but it in’t like we’re not knocking on the door. We were camped on their line once but came away without the try – we need to learn to squeeze the pressure on.
“We took a conscious decision that we wouldn’t quibble about things (injuries). Others are worse off than we are, and it’s an insult to the lads coming in who are doing a great job. We just work our way through it.”
Ireland Try: Heaslip Con: Jackson Pens: Jackson (2)
France Try: Picamoles Con: Michalak Pens: Michalak, Parra