Classic Match: France at their best to down Ireland

Historically France have enjoyed success against Ireland at home, but in recent seasons matches between the two in Paris have been much tighter.

Historically France have enjoyed success against Ireland at home, but in recent seasons matches between the two in Paris have been much tighter.

However back in 2010, Les Bleus were at their devastating best as they recorded a convincing 33-10 win on the way to a Grand Slam.   SETTING THE SCENE   Ireland were coming into the game on the back of a Grand Slam and an unbeaten season in 2009 while France had also performed well in the previous November Internationals, with victories over South Africa and Samoa.

The Irish had begun their campaign with a comfortable victory over Italy in Dublin, with tries from Jamie Heaslip and Tomas O’Leary.

For Les Bleus, Mathieu Bastareaud was the hero in Scotland, scoring two first-half tries in their 18-9 success in Edinburgh.   THE TEAMS   Both teams made two changes for the clash with France bringing back Vincent Clerc, who had enjoyed a lot of success against Ireland over the years, as well as Alexis Palisson, in place of Benjamin Fall, and Aurélien Rougerie on the wings.

Ireland also made a change on the wing as Keith Earls replaced Andrew Trimble, while Stephen Ferris was brought in for Kevin McLaughlin in the back row.   HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED   France started the quicker and after one rampaging break by Imanol Harinordoquy, Cian Healy was caught pulling back Morgan Parra without the ball and was duly sin-binned for his troubles.

Parra slotted the resulting penalty and with the extra man, France extended their lead with William Servat crashing over from close range to make it 10-0.

After Ireland had pulled back three points with a Ronan O’Gara penalty, François Trinh-Duc’s beautiful wide pass sent Yannick Jauzion over for the second try.

In the second half France extended their lead with Trinh-Duc’s passing again key in the build-up.

With France deep in the 22, Trinh-Duc’s double miss-pass put Bastareaud into space, and he held off Brian O’Driscoll before offloading out of the back of the hand to Clément Poitrenaud for the third try.

That made it 24-3 and Parra extended the advantage with a 40-metre drop goal after a dominant Bastareaud tackle had forced a turnover.

Ireland did hit back with a fine try from David Wallace, but fittingly it was France who had the final say with another drop goal, this time from Frédéric Michalak, to seal the win.

WHAT THEY SAID   France coach Marc Lièvremont said: “We are looking for consistent performances and this is what we are still working on.

“The Irish team is a good team but we managed to master their strengths and we played smartly.

“The first 15 minutes were very tough and that is maybe where we built victory. The Irish team had more possession in our half but we managed to keep control of the game and build momentum.”   Ireland coach Declan Kidney said: “We have to look at ourselves and try to learn from this, look at the scoring opportunities we created against their scoring opportunities.

“International rugby is a game of inches and while a lot of inches went for us last year, they went against us in this match.

“We were not going too bad early in the game and it was one of those 50-50 matches in which the first score was important.”   WHAT HAPPENED NEXT   Ireland bounced back with wins over England, at Twickenham, and Wales but then were beaten in their final game of the Championship at home to Scotland, still finishing second overall.

They were a long way back from France though, who completed the Grand Slam in impressive fashion.

After seeing off Ireland, they travelled to Wales where a pair of intercept tries helped them to a 26-20 success, before they eased to a 46-20 win over Italy.

And despite conceding an early try at home to England, their dominant scrum helped set up 12-10 victory in Le Crunch to clinch their fourth Grand Slam in the Six Nations era.   France 33 Ireland 10   France Tries: Servat, Jauzion, Poitrenaud Conversions: Parra 3 Penalties: Parra 2 Drop goals: Parra, Michalak   Ireland Tries: Wallace Conversions: O’Gara Penalties: O’Gara   France: Poitrenaud, Clerc, Bastareaud, Jauzion, Palisson, Trinh-Duc, Parra, Domingo, Servat, Mas, Nallet, Papé, Dusautoir, Ouedraogo, Harinordoquy Replacements: Szarzewski, Marconnet, Pierre, Bonnaire, Michalak, Marty, Malzieu   Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Earls, O’Gara, O’Leary, Healy, Flannery, Hayes, Cullen, O’Connell, Ferris, Wallace, Heaslip Replacements: Best, Court, Ryan, O’Brien, Reddan, Sexton, Wallace   Referee: Wayne Barnes