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As It Happened: Ireland v France

Ireland’s clash with France is Declan Kidney’s final opportunity to have a look at his squad ahead of Monday’s squad announcement.

Image : INPHO/Billy Stickland
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Ireland team: Jones; Trimble, B O’Driscoll (capt), G D’Arcy, K Earls; J Sexton, T O’Leary; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, S O’Brien, S Jennings, J Heaslip.

France team: C Heymans; M Medard, A Rougerie, F Estebanez, A Palisson; D Skrela, M Parra; JB Poux, D Szarzewski, N Mas; P Pape, L Nallet (capt); F Quedraogo, J Bonaire, L Picamoles.

An early Jones break results in a penalty chance for Jonny Sexton. The Leinster ten splits the posts and Ireland are off to a much better start. Ireland 3-0 France.

France really haven’t had a chance to get their hands on the ball yet. Another good break from Sean O’Brien has them under intense pressure inside their own 22 once again.

TRY! Ireland work through the phases after O’Brien’s drive and it’s eventually Cian Healy who collects it at the back of a ruck and steams over the line. Sexton sends the conversion across the face of the posts from out near the touch line. Ireland 8-0 France

François Trinh-Duc is on for Skrela. The latter doesn’t appear hurt, but did ship a heavy blow from O’Brien in the opening minutes.

France get their first chance to attack with 13 minutes on the clock. Strangely, they have been standing off Ireland a little in the opening minutes and it really has given the hosts a lot of space to maintain their early momentum.

It’s an important day too for Tomas O’Leary as the Corkman hasn’t had an awful lot of game time in recent months. Both himself and Reddan are tipped to go to New Zealand – plus either Isaac Boss or Conor Murray – but the question of who’s number one of the pair is still wide open.

Awful French handling sees Palisson collect a loose ball and sprint towards the Irish line. It’s Paul O’Connell who makes the vital interception and Ireland immediately look to counter.

After turning over ball, Ireland fail to run it out of their own half and concede a penalty. Scrum-half Morgan Parra gets Les Bleus on the scoreboard with 25 minutes gone. Ireland 8-3 France.

Sexton and Earls try to collect the same ball despite the fly-half’s shouts. French ball as a result as the pair exchange a few words.

Drop Goal! Stunning effort from Trinh-Duc. He claims three points with a superb kick from near the half-way line after seeing nothing on for his side. For all their time on the ball and early scores, Ireland are now just two points ahead. Ireland 8-6 France.

TRY! From a seemingly poor field position, quick ball and brilliant running from Rougerie and full-back Heymans sees France ahead for the first time. Parra converts and France are ahead. Ireland 8-13 France.

Having come off the bench, Trinh-Duc has certainly made his presence felt over the following 24 minutes. It’s all a little flat now from Ireland.

The penalty count with 19 minutes gone was 1-4 to France. Since then, Ireland have surged 6-4 ahead as France up the tempo.

Earls is penalised for tackling Parra without the ball. The Munster man is unlucky because the scrum-half looked as if he was coming on to pass. However, the referee awards the penalty and the French number nine duly converts. Double scores now. Ireland 8-16 France.

Sexton kicks the ball out and the half time whistle blows. A first half of two halves – Ireland make a great start but once France got going, they seemed to be able to score at will. HT: Ireland 8-16 France.

Palisson almost away for France as Ireland are caught out on their near side. Trimble plays the ball in an offside position so it’s another kick for Parra. The deadly-accurate scrum-half scores another three points. Ireland 8-19 France.

Picamoles leads the latest French charge and only a poor pass to Quedraogo breaks down their latest move.

TRY! O’Leary will not want to see the reply of this score again. Sloppy play between himself and Heaslip sees Trinh-Duc read a wild pass from the scrum-half to Sexton, and the replacement ten races clear to touch down. Parra converts as Cian Healy is helped from the pitch. Ireland 8-26 France.

Tom Court is on and Stephen Ferris is getting ready to join the action from the sidelines. Ireland have not scored since Healy’s early try at this stage – they need to start playing some rugby again!

Ireland string a few passes together before Sexton opts for the corner. Better from Ireland. Reddan is on for O’Leary. Ferris has put his tracksuit top back on…

A cross field kick from Sexton almost finds Jennings in the corner. Medard does well to push Earls into touch after the winger collects the loose ball. Again, much better from Ireland and even the crowd are getting a bit louder now.

Ireland get a penalty but O’Connell opts for the scrum rather than giving Sexton the ball.

The Irish attack comes to an end when Earls fires a pass beyond O’Driscoll’s reach. It could have been three points but how valuable would that be in what is effectively a World Cup warm-up game?

Trinh-Duc attempts another drop goal but it drops wide. It’s been a much more physical contest in the second half and Ireland have been on the back foot for a lot of it, unfortunately.

Flannery and Ferris are on. The latter’s first touch is to drive forward into the French pack and earn a penalty. O’Gara’s likely to be in shortly too.

A decent throw from Flannery, but Ireland fail to use possession despite being told to three times by the match referee. Kidney will be a frustrated man when he watches the video of this encounter.

I’m not sure how much the coach will be learning from this match either. O’Gara is on, with D’Arcy off – so Sexton moves to 12. Surely a bit late to be considering another new combination?

Replays show a very awkward landing for Jones. He’s helped to a stretcher and Luke Fitzgerald is on in his stead. Hopefully not another serious injury for the Munster starlet as he’s very much one for the future.

Heymans and Medard race to halt Sexton’s charge despite France being well ahead on the score board. Great defence from the French. Ireland have had a lot more possession in the last ten minutes or so but haven’t really challenged their opponents too much despite the odd flash.

TRY! Sexton is the man who gets over, but the try is all about Luke Fitzgerald’s surging run up the field and he’s only halted down just short of the line. O’Gara, interestingly, kicks the conversion. Ireland 15-26 France.

The RTÉ Man of the Match, unsurprisingly, is France’s Morgan Parra. He’s been key to his team’s turnaround and been immense with the boot.

Sexton was down receiving treatment but is back on his feet now. Ireland have a lineout close to the French line.

TRY! O’Brien is over after another break from Fitzgerald. A bit of gloss for the scoreboard but there will still be plenty for Kidney to consider. O’Gara converts. Ireland 22-26 France.

FULL TIME: It’s a four-point defeat for Ireland despite O’Brien late score. Ireland were second best on the day and it’s three defeats from three now. England are next up – another tough task for Kidney’s men.

The concerns will be the injuries to Jones and Healy. Also, Ireland were well beaten physically by players, many of whom were playing in their first proper game of the season. O’Leary didn’t have his best day and Ireland didn’t show much from the back – apart from the opening 15 minutes and one or two additional surges.

Positives include much-needed game time for O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Flannery and Ferris. Ireland did start well and did score more tries than France (we know we’re reaching with that last one!)

Jones’ injury has surely given Geordan Murphy a better chance of being included on Monday. Trimble and Fitzgerald also put their hands up again.

We’ll have all the news from Kidney’s squad announcement on Monday. In the meantime, we’re going to have a quick look over the rest of today’s matches and then finish up our rugby coverage for the evening.

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