France winger Damian Penaud applied the finish to a scintillating team score
It was billed as an unmissable game in Dublin, the world’s top-ranked side hosting their nearest challengers and it immediately lived up to the hype. Finlay Bealham‘s deft hands set up Hugo Keenan‘s well-worked score before Penaud’s team try saw France go the distance.
The bouncing ball came the way of full-back Thomas Ramos who batted it on volleyball-style to Penaud who picked it up on the right wing, a good five metres still inside his own 22.
The Clermont speedster set off with purpose, cutting inside and offloading to Anthony Jelonch who used all his strength to fend off the attempted tackle of Ireland captain Johnny Sexton around the halfway mark.
Read more: Rugby Fixtures
Keenan came in to try and haul down Jelonch but the flanker spun cleverly and passed the ball back to Penaud who raced clear into the left-hand corner, completing a scintillating length-of-the-field move that took France diagonally from one end of the pitch to another.
Not to be outdone, Ireland responded with a worldie of their own as wing James Lowe took off into orbit to touch down in the corner for a spectacular score.
Referee Barnes sent the decision upstairs to the TMO but crucially with the call as an on-field try.
Read more: James Lowe try: yes or no?
Footage appeared to show Lowe’s foot was dangerously close to the touchline while it was also touch-and-go whether or not the ball was grounded on the line in-goal.
But the benefit of the doubt went to the attacker given there was no clear and obvious evidence of a foot and touch and the officials decided the ball was grounded in-play before being compressed onto the line.
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Things got worse for France when Uini Atonio’s shuddering hit on Rob Herring earned him a yellow card, much to the displeasure of the Irish fans in the crowd who booed when a harsher punishment was not handed out.
Ireland made the most of their man advantage when loosehead prop Andrew Porter crashed over from close range.
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