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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019

France prove too strong, too clinical for Ireland in JWC opener

Cian Kelleher’s first-half try was not built upon and Ireland slipped to defeat in this opening World Cup campaign match.

Brandon Fajardo slotted two drop-goals this morning. (File photo)
Brandon Fajardo slotted two drop-goals this morning. (File photo)
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland 13

France 19

CIAN KELLEHER’S FIRST-HALF try was the clear highlight in this hard fought Junior World Championship Pool B loss to France in Auckland.

The fullback crossed in the 34th minute of the opening game of the World Cup campaign, but by then, much of the damage had already been done.

France, the Six Nations Champions, held on for the win thanks to telling interventions from their brilliant openside Yacouba Camara and two coolly taken drop-goals by out-half Brandon Fajardo.

Ireland’s own 10, Ross Byrne, kicked his side into an early lead, but Les Bleus’ scrum-half Baptiste Serin had already shown flashes of his brilliance to step through a static first-phase Ireland defence and chip beyond the try-line only to knock the ball on under pressure.

The pressure would not shake him from there on in and the Bordeaux playmaker got his kicking rhythm going to edge France level and then ahead with successive penalties.

Serin’s double put the Six Nations champions where they wanted to be. And although Frankie Taggart and Peadar Timmins had been able to frustrate Camara at the breakdown, the rangy seven did manage to complete a sublime offload in the lead-up to Ivan Roux’s pivotal try.

Having felt they were in the game, Mike Ruddock’s side were suddenly 13 adrift as Fajardo endeavoured to keep the scoreboard ticking upwards with a fine drop-goal under pressure.

On 34 minutes Ireland battled their way back. The powerful leg drive of captain Jack O’Donoghue creating the initial space before Kelleher showed footwork of a different kind to step through two defenders for a try that would leave Ireland just six points adrift at half-time.

With all to play for in the second half, it was understandable that the game found itself without many gamblers presenting themselves in attack. By the hour Ireland’s impressive scrum led by Peter Dooley would force a gilt-edged scoring chance, but Byrne’s 22-metre penalty was wide of the mark.

France would immediately attack at the other end, and when Camara came up short of the try-line having collected Fajardo’s chip, the supporting Francois Bouvier was help up by two determined Irish tacklers.

On the following attack, however, Fajardo was once again showing his class: slotting a second under-pressure drop-goal almost whilst back-peddling into the pocket to receive the pass.

Conor McKeon would nudge Ireland back to with six points with 11 minutes to play and that invited Ruddock’s side to roar forward one last time, but errors in the opposition 22 cost Ireland at the bitter end.



Try: Roux

Conversion: Serin

Drop-goal: Fajardo (2)

Penalties: Serin (2)


Try: Kelleher

Conversion: Byrne

Penalties: Byrne, McKeon.

FRANCE: Pierre Justes (Dax); Kylan Hamdaoui (Clermont Auvergne), Xavier Mignot (Bourgoin), Ivan Roux (Toulon), Lucas Blanc (Bordeaux-Bègles); Brandon Fajardo (Auscitain Armagnac), Baptiste Serin (Bordeaux-Bègles); Oleg Ishchenko (Montpellier), Romain Ruffenach (Biarritz Olympique), Tommy Raynaud (Narbonne), Arthur Iturria (Clermont Auvergne), Jean-Baptiste Singer (Clermont Auvergne), Jean-Blaise Lespinasse (Bordeaux-Bègles), Yacouba Camara (Toulouse), Francois Cros (Toulouse) (capt).

Replacements: Florian Ardiaca (Béziers Herault), Youssef Amrouni (Clermont Auvergne), Simon Courcoul (Clermont Auvergne), Felix Lambey (Lyon Olympique Universitaire), Jean Thomas (Colomiers), Thibault Daubagna (Section Paloise), Francois Bouvier (Toulouse), Valentin Saurs (Agen).

IRELAND: Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster), Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rory Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster), Stephen Gardiner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt).

Replacements: Dylan Donnellan (UCD/Leinster), Denis Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster), Oisin Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Darragh Moloney (Cork Constitution/Munster), Diarmaid Dee (Young Munster/Munster), Ryan Foley (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conor McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster), Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster).

Referee: Matt O’Brien (Australia)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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