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France will 'sniff blood' as they aim to pressure Ireland's 'weaknesses'

The Toulouse trio of Antoine Dupoint, Romain Ntamack and Thomas Ramos will be central for the French.

FRANCE COACH JACQUES Brunel says his team will look to pressurise the weaknesses in Ireland’s game that were exposed by England’s round one Six Nations victory in Dublin.

Eddie Jones’ men delivered a setback to Joe Schmidt’s side last month when they secured a bonus-point victory at the Aviva Stadium.

While Ireland have recovered to win against Scotland and Italy, the visiting French are eyeing an opportunity to cause another upset when they take on Schmidt’s men in Dublin on Sunday afternoon.

Romain Ntamack celebrates scoring their first try with teammates France are coming off the back of a win against Scotland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland themselves are cognisant of the fact that France will feel this weekend is an opportunity, particularly after their morale-boosting win against Scotland last time out.

“I think they’ll probably sniff a little bit of blood,” said Ireland fullback Rob Kearney today. “If you’re analysing a team that’s not firing at their best, that’s the nature of sport.

“I think we’re probably going to get the best France performance we’ve seen so far. It’s unusual for them to pick the same side two games on the bounce, a huge sign of confidence. We’re expecting a pretty good French side.”

France, for their part, are feeling more belief after the introduction of Toulouse trio Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack and Thomas Ramos helped inspire their victory over Scotland, a much-needed success after being hammered by England.

While Brunel is expecting Ireland to attempt to pressure his team with their kicking game, he is hopeful France can expose some of the Irish frailties shown against England.

“The Irish are going to put pressure on us with their kicking game, whether it’s Murray or Sexton,” said Brunel.

“We will try to master this characteristic of the Irish game. We have watched their matches, we have seen their ability to hold onto the ball and impose long spells of possession on their opponents. 

“We know what to expect but they were well beaten by the English. There are weaknesses and we will try to pressurise those.

Yoann Huget celebrates winning Les Bleus have renewed belief after beating the Scots. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“They love possession of the ball and putting together long phases of attacks, wearing you down. However, we have seen they have been shaky against England and even Italy gave them problems.

“But they remain a strong rugby nation and they are bolstered by having confidence in their style of play. They haven’t lost that quality.”

Brunel’s unchanged matchday 23 should finally allow France to bring some cohesion and momentum into a Six Nations game.

The Toulouse trio of scrum-half Dupont, out-half Ntamack and fullback Ramos will once again look to provide a creative edge against Ireland.

“Sunday is obviously another level of a challenge,” said Brunel. “But if our scrum can put them in strong positions like they did against Scotland then they will be able to show how good they are in attack.

“They have the type of spirit we want in this squad. That spirit can create things that rattle the opposition. We saw that with Thomas Ramos’ try against Scotland.”

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Murray Kinsella

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