'We had high hopes coming into it and we fell short, so it's very disappointing'

Ireland captain Caelan Doris was left dejected as his side came up just short of beating France in Perpignan.

IRELAND CAPTAIN CAELAN Doris admits his side are bitterly disappointed after falling agonisingly short of upsetting the odds on the opening night of the U20 World Championship, but can take positives from their performance against France.

Ireland dejected The Ireland team dejected at full-time. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Noel McNamara’s side pushed France all the way after taking a 17-5 lead into the break, but a powerful second-half performance from the Six Nations champions saw them score three quick-fire tries to record a 26-24 win.

Harry Byrne’s late try gave Ireland hope heading into the final 10 minutes in Perpignan but ultimately the hosts held out, leaving Doris and his team-mates to rue that period after the break when France seized ontrol of the contest.

Ireland will now need to beat South Africa on Sunday [KO 3.30pm, eir Sport] to retain any chance of progressing through to the semi-finals, but an encouraging display leaves grounds for optimism for the rest of the campaign.

“We focused on coming out, we knew they were coming out on the back of winning the Six Nations and in front of a home crowd, so we knew that first 20 minutes was big and we were happy with that and we were happy with the second 20,” Doris said afterwards.

“It’s just they got that purple patch coming out for the second half, we built back from there but just didn’t get close enough unfortunately. We had high hopes coming into it and we fell short, so it’s very disappointing.”

The Leinster number eight added: “There were a lot of positives, we’ve two massive games now so the focus turns to them and getting our recovery right for South Africa.”

For France, it was the perfect start to their home tournament but they were given an almighty scare by Ireland, who were much better defensively than when the sides met in the Six Nations back in February.

Caelan Doris dejected Ireland captain Caelan Doris. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Irish-born prop Daniel Brennan — the son of former Leinster, Toulouse and Ireland second row Trevor — admitted the French were caught off guard by Ireland’s early aggression.

“We’re happy to play at home, it’s a home World Cup, so we’re very motivated but I think we had a really bad start to the game but we got back in the second half so we’re happy we got the win. That’s what we came here for,” he said.

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“The Irish team were very aggressive, they came in very aggressive and I think we weren’t expecting that so we just got all the boys together and got pumped up at half-time so everyone was on track for the second half.

“We always knew it’s going to be tough, we’ve played against them three times in the last 12 months and it’s always been a tough game. They played us where we weren’t good today, so they done well.”

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Three quick-fire French tries keep Ireland from upsetting hosts in U20 World Championship opener

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