FRENCH STRUT AS IRISH FLOP
YOU BLEUTY! Romain Ntamack celebrates brilliant try
IRELAND ended up down and out in Paris and London after a second away defeat left their Six Nations dreams in tatters.
A decent first half preceded a disastrous second one – as France upped the tempo and ran in four tries to secure the win.
Unforced errors, a disastrous set piece and some defensive blunders cost Ireland.
And in the end even tries from Cian Healy, Robbie Henshaw and Jacob Stockdale could not save them.
Any time Ireland looked like getting into the game, they coughed up points – Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack scoring a try apiece, Ntamack setting up Virimi Vakatawa for the game-clinching fourth French try.
Even though Stockdale had the last word – it was too little, too late.
Coming into the game, Ireland knew they needed a six-point win to grab the title.
And they showed their intention from the start, taking the game to France, Bundee Aki putting in some huge carries in the early stages, Johnny Sexton controlling the game with his kicking.
Yet somehow Ireland were kicking themselves going seven points down after seven minutes when Antoine Dupont finished off a superb French move that saw Gael Fickou slide his way down the left wing before passing inside to his scrum half to go on and score.
Behind, Ireland refused to panic – and could have had a penalty try when Anthony Bouthier deliberately pushed the ball into touch.
Instead ref Wayne Barnes waved Ireland’s protests away – and even though Cian Healy would eventually squeeze over the line to mark his 100th cap in the best way possible, the truth is that Ireland’s dominance was not reflected on the scoreboard.
Instead they went in four points down at the break – two penalties from Sexton cancelled out by a penalty try for France after Caelan Doris made a mess of things in the backfield.
It didn’t help that Sexton turned down a kickable penalty in the 40th minute – believing a try was on the cards by going for the corner instead of the posts.
Still, they had reason to believe.
Or at least they did for a couple of minutes – by which stage Romain Ntamack had scored France’s third try. A couple of additional penalties put the French 15 points up.
Could Ireland come back? Robbie Henshaw certainly did his best to find out, scoring a brilliant 60th minute try to give them hope.
But hope was all it was as Les Bleus turned on the style and the Irish were left to rue one that got away.