Clinical Ireland beat France to keep alive title hopes | Daily News

Clinical Ireland beat France to keep alive title hopes

DUBLIN, Sunday - Defending Six Nation champions Ireland kept alive their hopes of retaining their title with a clinical 26-14 win over France at Lansdowne Road on Sunday. The hosts gave a far more assured performance than in their previous three matches and had the game sealed by half-time leading 19-0 after scoring three tries through captain Rory Best, Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan.

Keith Earls secured the bonus point with a fourth try in the second-half to give both coach Joe Schmidt and Best a victory in what was their final Six Nations home match.The hosts had lost just once at home under Schmidt in the Six Nations -- to England this year. They were not destabilised by the late withdrawal of Rob Kearney and only resilient French defence prevented a slaughter.

Best’s try -- his 10th for his country in 116 Tests -- came in the opening five minutes. After the French conceded a penalty, Sexton kicked into touch and from the line-out Best powered past French scrum-half Antonie Dupont. Sexton converted for 7-0.

In a rare foray outside their half in the first period, France crossed the line but Damian Penaud was judged to have knocked as he gathered a cross-field kick before passing to Thomas Ramos. Captain Guilhem Guirado gave a rueful Gallic shrug as referee Ben O’Keeffe ruled out the try. The Irish missed a golden opportunity after sustained pressure as Cian Healy went to touch down but instead knocked it on.

The battered and bruised French lost two of their starting pack inside the opening 20 minutes but the Irish failed to hammer home their advantage as the visitors defended resolutely. Dupont drove Sexton back into touch to snuff out one chance but the Ireland fly half was not to be denied. – AFP


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