Six Nations - France fight back to draw with Ireland

Sun, 04 Mar 14:42:00 2012

France clawed their way back to share a 17-17 draw with Ireland in their Six Nations clash in Paris.

France's Clement Poitrenaud challenges Ireland's Jonathan Sexton and Andrew Trimble - 0

The Stade de France had rocked to the sound of Irish cheering and singing when two magnificent pieces of impudence from Tommy Bowe had put the hosts in the driving seat in the first half.

But a defensive error early in the second half allowed Wesley Fofana to score a try which got France right back into match.

The hosts kept on coming forward as they looked for the winning score, but with Irish discipline and defence both exemplary the match ended in a first draw in this fixture in Paris since 1950.

Ireland went into the match without a win in Paris since Brian O'Driscoll scored a hat-trick of tries 12 years ago, and the visitors looked determined to end that long wait.

France, by contrast, started the game in appalling, lethargic fashion as they were consistently outfought by Declan Kidney's men.

Ireland could have gone ahead after just eight minutes when French full-back Clement Poitrenaud hung onto the ball in the tackle, but Jonny Sexton pulled his penalty off to the left.

Just five minutes later the visitors opened the scoring thanks to Ireland's superb defensive pressure. With France in possession, Francois Trinh-Duc tried to do too much with a long pass missing out two players, and under pressure Aurelien Rougerie's poor pass was easily intercepted by Bowe, who ran in under the posts.

Bowe's second try, just two minutes before half-time, was equally impudent: an Irish turnover deep in their own half saw Bowe released on the wing. He chose to kick and chase rather than pass to Rob Kearney in support, but given that he was up against forward Julien Bonnaire the choice was a good one. The ball bounced kindly and Bowe ran in for a second try.

France reacted with predictable vigour after trailing 17-6 at half-time, with Ireland pulling down a maul within six minutes of the re-start to allow Parra to score his third penalty of the match.

And just five minutes later France were right back in it when a loose ball sparked a defensive mix-up in the Irish line for the only time in the match, and Fofana was there to collect the ball and run in from 30m for his third try in as many internationals.

The conversion was missed but Parra managed to level the scores with a long-range penalty from almost the halfway line with 22 minutes left.

Ireland were stung into action, camping in the 22m for long periods after two beautiful breaks from Keith Earls and Sexton got them within sight of the line.

France held firm, however, eventually clearing the decks and pushing forwards only to run into a similarly impenetrable defence themselves.

And with no way through for either side, the match ended in a draw which, while a credit to both teams, left neither side happy.

France clawed their way back to share a 17-17 draw with Ireland in their Six Nations clash in Paris. - 2


Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account