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Ireland hold on for draw in Paris

04th March 2012 13:48

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Ireland Tommy Bowe try paris 2012

Two tries: Tommy Bowe

France recovered from an eleven-point half-time deficit to seal a 17-17 draw with Ireland in Paris on Sunday.

Declan Kidney's side had put themselves in a strong position going into the break after a try brace from Tommy Bowe stunned les Bleus.

But in a much-improved second-half showing the French found a route back into the fixture and in fact missed two late chances to claim the win.

The draw ends the prospect of a Grand Slam decider between Wales and France on March 17, while Ireland's title aspirations are now over.

France were sluggish throughout the first-half, with their midfield in particular showing signs of sloppiness when Bowe pounced on a wayward pass to ghost over in the thirteenth minute. Jonathan Sexton's easy conversion made it 0-7.

The physical playmaker then added a penalty in reply to France scrum-half Morgan Parra's effort.

Parra, though, quickly made it 6-10 as he kicked a penalty from just inside the Irish half - the ball creeping over the bar and to add insult to injury hitting an unsuspecting Bowe on the head.

Clermont's number nine missed with another opportunity in the 35th minute after Cian Healy became the butt of the French fans frustration when coming back from an offside position he blocked what could have been a try-scoring pass from Aurélien Rougerie.

The Irish then fashioned a try out of nothing. Breaking out of their 22, Keith Earls offloaded to Bowe and the 28-year-old broke one tackle before chipping and outpacing Poitrenaud to score. Sexton's extras went in off the post to give the visitors a 17-6 half-time advantage.

That became 17-9 in the 47th minute as Parra made no mistake from wide out and the lead was reduced further three minutes later when Wesley Fofana's individual brilliance saw him snaffle the ball outside the Irish 22 and using his speed beat full-back Rob Kearney to dive over in the corner. Parra missed the conversion to leave the Irish holding on to a 17-14 lead but he had them all square shortly before the hour mark, landing a long-range penalty.

The Irish ill-fortune continued within seconds as improving scrum-half Conor Murray went to ground clutching his knee and had to be stretchered off to be replaced by Eoin Reddan.

Kidney' side spurned two great chances when Rory Best's throw went askew with the line-out metres from the French line and although they regained possession, centre Gordon D'Arcy knocked on when under no pressure. Scores were beginning to dry up in Paris.

The French also made a mess of trying to end the stalemate as replacement Lionel Beauxis missed his attempt at a drop-goal, as it barely took off before the Irish cleared.

The hosts came back and punched away at the Irish who held strong and, unlike in the 23-21 last minute loss to Wales, didn't concede a penalty and claimed a share of the spoils.

Man of the match: France inside centre Wesley Fofana again demonstrated his potential on the Test scene with an effortless and opportunistic try in the second-half. However, those two tries cannot go unrewarded so we go for Tommy Bowe. A mention for Rob Kearney.

Moment of the match: It has to be when Tommy Bowe collected a short ball on the right wing and then proceeded to chip over the last defender, collect and score his second try of the game. That made it 6-17 with the conversion as things were looking good for Ireland.

Villain of the match: No malice to speak of.

The scorers:

For France:
Try: Fofana
Pen: Parra 4

For Ireland:
Tries: Bowe 2
Con: Sexton 2
Pen: Sexton

France: 15 Clément Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 William Servat, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Lionel Nallet, 19 Louis Picamoles, 20 Julien Dupuy, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Maxime Mermoz.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Peter O'Mahony, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Fergus McFadden.

Referee: Dave Pearson (England)

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1Ireland58
2England58
3Wales56
4France56
5Scotland52
6Italy50