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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 26 November 2020
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Liveblog

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Good evening and welcome to our liveblog for this final game of the 2020 Six Nations championship between Ireland and France.

With England struggling in Rome, Ireland are left with three viable options of winning the tournament, either by posting a bonus point victory over France tonight, or else by securing a win by a seven-point margin.

Better than that, If Ireland win by six points and the points difference is level with England’s, the next deciding factor is tries scored.

Both Ireland and England have currently scored 14, so Andy Farrell’s side need only one try to move clear of England.

But if Ireland win by six points without scoring a try, the Championship will be shared. For their part, France could also win the championship if they secure a bonus point victory and defeat Ireland by 31 points or more.

Kick-off is at 8.05pm, so put the kettle on, stick the feet up and get settled in.

While the French have turned into a serious outfit under Fabien Galthié, winning four of their five games in 2020, one veteran of this fixture is putting his money on Ireland doing the business tonight. Here’s Sean O’Brien from his interview with The42 earlier today.

I’d be licking my lips if I was an Irishman going to Paris today,” O’Brien says. “Not too many people think Ireland will get a bonus point but we can if we play to our potential and I know the individuals who’ll be driving this. It’ll be all out attack from Ireland.”

It is also worth bearing in mind Rassie Erasmus’ comment about the Irish pack being ‘softies’. There is one way to answer those claims.

Here are the teams.

France:

15. Anthony Bouthier
14. Vincent Rattez
13. Virimi Vakatawa
12. Arthur Vincent
11. Gaël Fickou
10. Romain Ntamack 
9. Antoine Dupont

1. Cyril Baille
2. Julien Marchand
3. Mohamed Haouas
4. Bernard le Roux 
5. Paul Willemse
6. François Cros
7. Charles Ollivon (captain)
8. Grégory Alldritt

Replacements:

16. Camille Chat
17. Jean-Baptiste Gros 
18. Demba Bamba
19. Romain Taofifenua
20. Dylan Cretin 
21. Baptiste Serin
22. Arthur Retière
23. Thomas Ramos

Ireland:

15. Jacob Stockdale
14. Andrew Conway
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Hugo Keenan
10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rob Herring
3. Andrew Porter
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Caelan Doris
7. Will Connors
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Ed Byrne
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Peter O’Mahony
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Ross Byrne
23. Chris Farrell

Referee: Wayne Barnes [RFU].

Our man reporting on the game tonight is Murray Kinsella. 

 

Win, lose or draw, it will still be a special night for Cian Healy, who wins his 100th cap for his country in the Stade de France.

cian-healy-on-his-100th-appearance-for-ireland Healy will win his 100th cap for Ireland tonight. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

England flattered to deceive in Rome, leaving the door ajar for Ireland. 

Here are the highlights from the 34-5 victory for Eddie Jones’ side.

Huge night for Andy Farrell – who could end his first season in charge with a Six Nations title.

andy-farrell Andy Farrell in pensive mood ahead of tonight's game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

France 0-0 Ireland:

We’re off

Knock-on by France and Ireland have the first put-in of the game

France 0-0 Ireland, one minute played

Solid opening scrum and Bundee Aki gets over the gainline

The box kick is back after a one-week break

3Mins

Good start from Ireland, brilliant turnover from Doris, fine box kick from Murray, scrum Ireland

Scrum penalty to Ireland, take a bow, Andrew Porter

Conor Murray is going for it

5Mins

Murray’s attempt is just off. Fine effort, had the distance but it was off line

7Mins

TRY FRANCE DUPONT

9Mins

Great score from France, superb play from Gaël Fickou who ran a brilliant line down the wing, Antoine Dupont followed up to get on the end of his pass to score, Ntamack gets the conversion and it is 7-0 to France.

10Mins

Could be a yellow card here for the French, Wayne Barnes checking with the TMO

10Mins

So Anthony Bouthier is sent to the bin for deliberately pushing the ball out of play. Discussion of a possible penalty try goes on for a bit but in the end Barnes decides it is just a penalty for Ireland.

11Mins

Absolute mess of a line-out there from Ireland. Great defence from France to stop Ireland’s maul. Upshot is a France scrum and a missed chance for Ireland.

15Mins

Penalty to Ireland, Sexton goes to the corner again.

16Mins

France hold Ireland up over the line, scrum to Ireland from the five-metre line; Ireland playing the better rugby thus far  but it is not yet reflected on the scoreboard.

17Mins

Rock solid scrum from Ireland, Sexton makes the break, held up just short of the France line, Ireland pick and go, Herring has a go, then Beirne, penalty again to Ireland

18Mins

TRY Ireland again go for the try, camped in the France 22, Cian Healy gets the try

19Mins

Sexton adds the conversion – it is 7-7

20Mins

So here is the image of the Dupont try – which seems like an age ago. It is 7-7 and we are back to 15 against 15 – but Ireland have been much the better team. Healy has suffered an injury and is receiving treatment.

antoine-dupont-scores-a-try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

23Mins

Robbie Henshaw flies through the air to win a penalty for Ireland just inside their own half, Vakatawa with the infringement

27Mins

Super kick to touch from Sexton. France back in their own 22 – Ireland continuing to boss proceedings thus far. Bundee Aki has been immense as Ireland win their fifth penalty of the game. Sexton kicks it over and Ireland are 10-7 up

bundee-aki-comes-up-against-romain-ntamack Source: James Crombie/INPHO

30Mins

France awarded a penalty try after Caelan Doris played the man without the ball. He goes to the bin. Stockdale made a bad mistake at full back

32Mins

So somehow Ireland are trailing here – despite playing the better rugby. Two French attacks have resulted in two tries – one awarded by Wayne Barnes. He could have given Ireland a penalty try earlier as well – see below – but opted not to as Hugo Keenan closed in on the line. Ireland awarded another penalty just now

hugo-keenan-reacts-after-anthony-bouthier-knocks-on-the-ball-for-which-he-was-later-awarded-a-yellow-card Source: James Crombie/INPHO

33Mins

PENALTY IRELAND, Sexton kicks it to reduce the gap to 14-13. 

34Mins

So Ireland are a man down, a point down, and have Cian Healy coming back onto the field after going through his HIA successfully

38Mins

Penalty awarded to France, Ntamack is going to go for the posts after a sustained period of France pressure. To be fair, Ireland defended well

38Mins

PENALTY FRANCE 

They now lead 17-13 after Ntamack slots it over

40Mins

So the first half ends with Ireland back in the French half, where they have played plenty of rugby in the opening period. They win a penalty

40Mins

Sexton goes to the corner, Doris back on the field.

40Mins

Ireland go through the phases, Ryan carries a couple of times, so too Stander but France defend superbly. Ireland missed the chance to take three handy points and so – at half-time, they are four points down after Cian Healy’s try (below) gave them hope.

 

40Mins

Here are some highlights from the first-half.

First the seventh minute try from Dupont – 7-0 France

antoine-dupont-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-gael-fickou Dupont celebrates his try. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

 
Then came this try from Cian Healy on his 100th cap – making it 7-7.

cian-healy-scores-a-try-on-his-100th-appearance-for-ireland Healy gets across the line for a try on his 100th cap. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And finally there was a penalty try for France – which resulted in Caelan Doris spending time in the sinbin. France lead 17-13 at the break.

caelan-doris-watches-on-from-the-sin-bin Doris reflects on his decision to tackle the man without the ball Source: James Crombie/INPHO

41Mins

We’re back underway

43Mins

Stockdale finds a good touch after such an indifferent first half from the Ulster full back. Ireland on the attack again

TRY FRANCE 

45Mins

Fickou kick, Dupont collects it and his slipped pass infield to Ntamack is incredibly well executed. Conversion missed

48Mins

PENALTY FRANCE

Ntamack goes for the posts and nails a 44 metre kick to put France 12 points up

50Mins

Another penalty to France after Julien Marchand wins the collision at the breakdown. Hard to see how Ireland are going to get a result at this stage. Too many self-inflicted wounds

52Mins

Ireland tiring visibly here, Andrew Porter penalised – Ntamack goes for the posts, and kicks his fourth kick from five to make it 28-13

52Mins

Chris Farrell is on the way in

54Mins

Ireland win a penalty and go to the corner but lose the subsequent line out. Johnny does not look overly pleased.

johnny-sexton Source: Dave Winter/INPHO

56Mins

Ireland lose yet another line out in the France 22. Such a good first-half performance has been replaced by a poor display after the break. 

France have pinned them back in their own 22 now.

59Mins

TRY IRELAND ROBBIE HENSHAW

60Mins

Cometh the hour ……. Superb play from Henshaw – who saw a gap down the left and raced into it. No French defender could stop him, although a couple tried. Sexton kicks a brilliant conversion and all of a sudden it is 28-20.

66Mins

Ireland lose yet another line-out, this time inside the France 22. The second half has been riddled with errors.

67Mins

Again, an Irish line-out is lost – Heffernan going to the tail, France cleaning up

70Mins

So 12 minutes left, 10 points adrift, two tries shy of winning the title. Ireland have it all to do as Sexton is subbed off, shaking his head as he walks to the sideline

71Mins

TRY FRANCE

72Mins

Romain Ntamack provides the class, collecting his own chip before he passes to his left to Virimi Vakatawa to cross. Ntamack converts, France have a 15-point lead and there is simply no way back

73Mins

Ireland’s play in the backfield has been awful tonight – Stockdale clearly struggling for confidence

75Mins

Ireland win a penalty – but Byrne fails to find touch. The second half has been full of enforced errors

76Mins

Ireland really are shapeless at the moment. They have won another penalty – and even managed to find touch this time. But this second half display has been extremely sloppy

81Mins

So the title is heading England’s way. Ireland have a mixed campaign to reflect on – three home wins mixed with two defeats in Paris and London. Their performance here, like the campaign, was up and down – a fine display in the first half preceding a pretty poor one after the break.  At least they end on a high with a try from Jacob Stockdale. Byrne converts.

johnny-sexton-leaves-the-field-dejected Johnny Sexton looks utterly frustrated as he leaves the field. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

So a disappointing night ends in defeat for Ireland.

They certainly had their chances in this game but a second half filled with unforced errors cost them dearly. England end the tournament as champions, Ireland as a side who have plenty to work on next month.

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About the author:

Garry Doyle

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