Ireland 17 – France 17, Six Nations Match report
By Alessandro Brunelli
Blood, sweat and tears were all spilled at the Stade de France yesterday, with Ireland leaving Paris with a hard fought draw and a bitter taste of disappointment at having so close to taking the win.
A spirited approach by the Irish side in the first half had led even the most sceptical fans to dream of a final score which could have gone down in History.
On the 17th minute a lack of concentration on the Bleus side had allowed an opportunist Tommy Bowe to pierce a French defense which initially looked far from its usual strength.
It was far too easy for Bowe to intercept a pass from Rougerie and run in between the posts for the first Irish try, which was followed by a conversion from Jonathan Sexton.
Bowe’s effort was then accompanied by a solid defensive display by Declan Kidney’s men, which only let the French score from penalties in the first half, while Sexton punished the French indiscipline with another kick.
There was yet more Irish sparkle to come before the half time whistle, as on the 37th minute Bowe again went deep through the French defense like a hot knife through butter, chipped the ball past Mazier and scored an impressive try which pulled the curtains on the first half, with the Irish deservedly leading 17 to 6.
You could never blame the French for lacking pride, and a great deal of pride is what they drew upon to make a spectacular comeback in the second half.
There was urgency in the way France tried to gain territory, an attitude which was awarded with a penalty scored by Morgan Parra on the 47th minute.
This was followed only three minutes later by a stunning run from Wesley Fofana, who got a hold of the ball just past midfield and went all the way to score a try which cast doubts over the Irish ability to hold the lead until the end.
As another kick from Parra on 58th minute led the 80-thousand strong stadium behind the Bleus to the tune of the Marseillaise, Irish hopes looked even dimmer.
But that was, in an overall disappointing second half, the time the men in green regrouped and managed to desperately defend a score for the whole last quarter of the match.
Although all during the final period they never looked dangerous in the French half, and this will mostly be remembered as a wasted golden opportunity, Ireland should still feel some pride in coming so close to sealing a victory in this year’s most feared away match.