Dominant France end Irish winning streak
February 13, 2010
Yannick Jauzion powered over for France's second
© Getty Images
France have stolen a march in this season's Six Nations by ending Ireland's 12-match unbeaten run with a 33-10 victory at the Stade de France.
As it proved to be for Wales last season, the Stade was the graveyard for Ireland's hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams following another French performance brimming with pace and menace. William Servat and Yannick Jauzion pounced for first-half tries while Irish prop Cian Healy was confined to the sin-bin, with Clement Poitrenaud scoring a third just after the break.
Morgan Parra continued to develop alongside Francois Trinh-Duc at halfback, kicking 15 points to cancel out David Wallace's second-half try for a forlorn Ireland.
France pitted the hero of their opening victory over Scotland, Mathieu Bastareaud, against Irish skipper Brian O'Driscoll, while Ronan O'Gara kept the Irish fly-half berth despite the return to fitness of Jonathan Sexton.
Ireland began tentatively, with a knock-on from the kick-off and a terrible sliced Garryowen from Tommy Bowe. O'Connell settled the nerves by rising to pinch a French lineout, but more handling errors allowed the home side to break.
Bastareaud had his first charge at the defence but Ireland held firm, reclaiming the ball and kicking long. Alexis Palisson gathered and rescued a hairy situation with a mazy run, but Ireland bit back immediately after Rob Kearney claimed the eventual clearance. The Lions fullback brilliantly latched onto his own up 'n'under, creating space for Stephen Ferris to power his way through the line and release No.8 Jamie Heaslip. Tomas O'Leary continued the movement but a poor pass from O'Gara brought the movement to an abrupt end.
Servat saw another throw picked off by Ireland after a charge-down had put the visitors under pressure, and Kearney's clearance drew more territorial gain as Poitrenaud booted the ball out on the full. Ireland set up a strong maul but were undone by a wild pass from Jerry Flannery, but France continued to falter as Servat's third throw went to a green shirt.
Irish centre Gordon D'Arcy pulled out his best dancing shoes in midfield, darting through the French blitz defence and chipping ahead. The bounce was cruel, though, eluding the Leinster man and falling to a scampering Vincent Clerc.
France opened the scoring moments later, and were granted a man advantage when Healy was shown yellow for an early tackle. Imanol Harinordoquy and Pascal Pape made huge gains with powerful runs to the heart of the Irish defence, Trinh-Duc continuing the movement before Healy made a speculative grab at the supporting Parra, preventing a potential try and earning 10 minutes in the bin.
Parra chipped over the penalty and Ireland were fortunate not to lose another player following Jerry Flannery's mindless hack at Palisson. France went to the corner and were handed another penalty as O'Leary went in at the side of a maul, the home side electing for a scrum against the seven-man Irish pack. Two penalties followed as the French dominated and despite a rallying effort from Ireland, France secured quick ball and Servat powered over from close range to punish Ireland with a 10-point swing during Healy's time off the field.
France were guilty of blocking at the restart and O'Gara knocked over a penalty as Healy re- entered the fray. Immediately, though, a rampant French attack fired for the second try of the game. Bastareuad powered into space and was supported by Parra. Trinh-Duc cleverly used a miss-pass to find Jauzion out wide, with the Toulouse centre unstoppable from five metres.
Ireland pressed constantly as the half drew to a close, forcing a penalty metres out from the French line. Several phases of pick and drive followed, with France pinged for offside. O'Leary took a quick tap and was swallowed by the defence, with the opportunity lost as Leo Cullen knocked on out wide.
France nearly landed the killer blow just after the restart, with Vincent Clerc bearing down on the line before being denied by a last ditch tackle. Fulgence Ouedraogo followed up but was only able to knock on, letting the visitors off the hook.
Julien Malzieu also went close for Les Bleus, the Clermont wing barged into touch after collecting a delightful chip from Trinh-Duc. The fly-half was then hauled down a metre from the line, after a dog-legged Irish line was carved open. Parra could not collect the ball under pressure and France saw a third chance go begging.
A terrible mistake by Keith Earls, knocking on after taking a quick tap from a mark, gave France position to secure their third. From the scrum the ball was worked to Bastareaud, who was able to hold off the challenge of O'Driscoll long enough to offload to Poitrenaud, who was unstoppable from close range.
Parra angled in a brilliant conversion and added a long-range drop-goal to underline French authority, but Ireland burgled the next try immediately after. Ferris set off on a powerful blindside burst, popping an offload to O'Driscoll, who in turn was able to find an onrushing Wallace. The flanker crossed untouched and O'Gara successfully landed the conversion.
Parra missed a chance to extend France's lead soon after, but was caught by Tom Court in a late tackle immediately after. The Clermont scrum-half dusted himself off and slotted the kick that opened up a 20-point margin heading into the final 10 minutes.
A promising blindside burst from D'Arcy was ended by a knock-on and Ireland's late efforts were snuffed out by France's dominant pack. A scrum penalty gave France the territory they needed to close out the game, and replacement Frederic Michalak did just that, rocking back in the pocket and slotting a drop-goal.
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