Rugby: Ireland hold France in Paris; Bowe double frustrates French at the Stade de France
A resolute defence rewarded Ireland with a credible 17-17 draw at the Stade de France in this weekend’s only Six Nations fixture.
The game was the fixture that was meant to take place on 11th February, but poor pitch conditions in certain areas of the turf meant the clash was called off until a later date.
Two Tommy Bowe tries helped put the Irish in a comfortable position at half time, with the visitors leading 17-6. However 11 unanswered points from Phillipe Saint-Andre’s men now means it is only Wales who can clinch a Grand Slam, should they win their remaining two matches.
Declan Kidney’s team began impressively, and despite fly-half, Jonathan Sexton, missing a penalty opportunity in the sixth minute, Bowe scored the first points of the game just seven minutes later.
The Ospreys winger intercepted a loose pass from centre, Aurelien Rougerie, and was left the simple task of crossing over and scoring under the posts. The conversion was added and Ireland merited their seven point lead.
A response came from France though, and pulled three points back in the shape of a Morgan Parra penalty; however, Sexton restored the deficit by adding a penalty of his own. French scrum-half, Parra, then slotted home another penalty, from a fair distance to reduce the gap to four points.
However with half-time fast approaching, Bowe produced a superb individual try to put Ireland in a commanding position. His chip and chase proved successful after clipping the ball over the home defence. With the bounce favouring the 28-year-old, he collected the ball and touched down. With Sexton adding the conversion, Ireland went into half time 17-6 up.
However France began to enjoy the better of the play after the break, and Parra added another penalty after another Irish infringement. The French confirmed their dominance with a score of their own on 51 minutes. Inside-Centre, Wesley Fofana, made the most of a poor Keith Earls’ clearance, and sprinted 40 yards to score in the corner. Parra missed the conversion attempt, but made up for the miss with a penalty from near halfway.
With the ascendency in France’s sails, any kind of score looked as if it may be enough for them to snatch the win.
However an Irish defence, tough in their tackling, patient with their approach and disciplined as if they were soldiers, meant they applied enough pressure for replacement, Lionel Beauxis, to waste two drop-goal efforts.
For the Irish, they may feel disappointed that they let a 11 lead slip, however they can proud of their defensive performance, which has helped them frustrate the French to end all hope of securing a Grand Slam in the 2012 Six Nations.