Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Les Bleus keep Grand Slam dreams alive with Ireland win

After a heartbreaking loss to Wales a week ago, Ireland looked to get their Guinness Six Nations ...

After a heartbreaking loss to Wales a week ago, Ireland looked to get their Guinness Six Nations campaign back on track when they hosted France on Sunday.

Playing with just 14 men for most of the match against Wales, Ireland came within five points of their hosts, after putting up a fairly good performance.

Andy Farrell was forced into a number of changes, with Peter O'Mahony receiving a three-match ban for his red card against Wales, while Jonathan Sexton and James Ryan were ruled out with concussion symptoms. Conor Murray was also ruled out due to a hamstring strain.

France, on the other hand, came into the match off the back of a 50-10 victory over Italy, with only two changes to their high-flying side a week earlier.

The visitors were awarded the first point-scoring opportunity within the first 10 minutes of the match, however Matthieu Jalibert was unable to capitalise on the penalty from the lineout.

Jalibert was not the only one to miss with his first attempt, though, as Billy Burns missed a penalty of his own in the almost 10 minutes later, leaving the score level halfway through the first half.

Burns did not let that early miss affect him, however, as his kicking from hand got Ireland into good field position, and allowed him a second shot at goal on the stroke of 20 minutes gone. Ireland took the three-point lead heading into the second quarter.

The visitors' worries were compounded by a yellow card for Bernard le Roux, who was penalised for a trip against Keith Earls, who was chasing one of Jamison Gibson-Park's up-and-unders.

Ireland wasted no time in exploiting the extra man, spreading the ball wide from the lineout immediately, however James Lowe was denied a try in the corner by the Television Match Official (TMO).

James Lowe TMO Ireland vs France James Lowe of Ireland is bundles into touch prior to scoring a try, which was subsequently disallowed, during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

After weathering the Irish pressure, France found some territory in the Ireland half, taking full advantage to spread the ball out wide to Charles Ollivon.

Ollivon managed to beat the defender out wide to score under the posts. Jalibert extended the lead with only 14 men on the pitch, with just under half an hour played.

France took the lead out to seven before half time with a final penalty before half time, leaving Ireland with it all to do in the second half.

Ireland's second half got off to almost the worst possible start, as they almost conceded a try in the first minute, before losing Billy Burns, Iain Henderson and Cian Healy to Head Injury Assessments (HIAs) with less than two minutes played in the half.

It took 15 minutes for the first points to be scored in the second half, after the early injuries, as Damian Penaud was gifted a try in the corner from the footwork of Brice Dulin.

Jalibert could not extend the French lead, however, meaning that Ireland trailed by 12 points.

Ireland finally scored their first try of the game against the run of play, as Ronan Kelleher pounced on a loose lineout ball to run in for a 20 metre score with his first touch of the game.

Ross Byrne added the conversion to take Ireland back within five. He added a penalty for the hosts a couple of minutes later to bring the deficit back within a score with just 15 minutes left of the match.

Ronan Kelleher Ireland vs France Rónan Kelleher of Ireland scores his side's first try during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

With the game on a knife-edge heading into the final 10 minutes of the match, Jalibert failed to take France out to a more comfortable lead as his penalty kick struck the posts.

With shades of the situation from last week, Ireland received a penalty in the final minute of the match, which Byrne put just inside the French half.

The French defence held strong, ultimately forcing a turnover with time up on the clock, earning their first win in Dublin in 10 years.

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Andrew Porter Antoine Dupont Billy Burns CJ Stander Cian Healy Conor Murray France Garry Ringrose Hugo Keenan Iain Henderson Ireland Italy James Lowe James Ryan Jamison Gibson-park Jonathan Sexton Josh Van Der Flier Keith Earls Matthieu Jalibert Peter O'Mahony Rhys Ruddock Rob Herring Robbie Henshaw Six Nations Tadhg Beirne Wales