Oval Talk

France and Ireland draw, Wales win

Oval Talk

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France draw level against Ireland

Ireland have only won once in France since 1972. That was 12 years ago when Brian O'Driscoll made his name by scoring three tries against a bewildered French team.

At half-time on Sunday Declan Kidney must have thought that dreadful record was going to come to an end when two Tommy Bowe tries had helped Ireland to a 17-6 lead.

Bowe was brilliant; first he intercepted a loose pass from Aurelien Rougerie and the second try was a fine solo effort.

However, come the full-time whistle it was the Wales coach, Warren Gatland, who would have been the happiest of the Six Nations coaches as Les Bleus managed to salvage a 17-17 draw.

It means France's Grand Slam ambitions are over as is any real chance Ireland have of winning their first title since 2009.

Wales are one point ahead of France with all teams having played three games. Next week Gatland's side play Italy while France are at home to England.

The title will inevitably go down to the final day of the Championship, on March 17, when Wales host France. With 75,000 fans behind them Wales will fancy getting revenge against the World Cup finalists.

Wales still feel hard done by for the manner in which they were beaten by France in the World Cup semi-finals last October. Oval Talk is sure the Welsh squad will watch that game to remind themselves of the frustration and disappointment which will spur them on.

Another contributing factor is that the match on March 17 will be France's third game in as many weeks. The gruelling encounter against Ireland is followed by a tough tie against Stuart Lancaster's England.

By the time Philippe Saint Andre's team arrive at the Millennium Stadium they will be on their last legs compared with what will be a pumped up Wales team.

Although it was a memorable second-half comeback the match against Ireland it was a significant blow to France, something which Saint Andre readily admits.

"When you gave away 10 points, it's really hard to win the match against Ireland, who defended very well and bothered us with their umbrella defence," said Saint Andre.

"There was a feeling of defeat, not that of a draw in the dressing room."

Saint Andre's words sound as if France have already given up. The draw has destroyed their spirit. They will be physically and mentally fatigued for their game against Wales. Gatland must have enjoyed his Sunday evening.

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