Boss – ‘We must beat England’

Isaac Boss has attempted to rally shattered Ireland by declaring victory over England will catapult them straight back into the Six Nations title race.

Ireland suffered the cruellest of defeats on Sunday when they overcame a hesitant first half to establish a winning position against France, only to then concede a try seven minutes into injury-time.

France won a restart, recycled and fed Toulouse winger Vincent Clerc who evaded some weak tackling before diving over, with Lionel Beauxis adding the conversion and sealing a 20-17 triumph.

A groan of despair echoed around Croke Park as Ireland’s Grand Slam dream crumbled and now England must be dispatched in Dublin on February 24 if they are to remain in the title hunt.

Ulster scrum-half Boss knows there is no further margin for error but insists camp morale remains intact despite Sunday’s setback.

“The England game is our chance to resurrect our Six Nations championship,” he said.

“That makes it an even bigger match than France so it’s a shame we have to wait two weeks to get into it. We’d play it tomorrow if we could.

“It will be big occasion. Every year the Six Nations goes down to the wire and I see the same happening this time around.”

Ireland trailed just 13-11 at half-time, despite being under pressure for most of the first half.

Ronan O’Gara’s heroics kept them in touch with the Munster fly-half finishing a superb team try he started and kicking six points.

The second half belonged to Ireland, whose commitment was rewarded with some deafening support from Croke Park, and when O’Gara landed two more penalties they appeared to have done enough.

But when France kicked off after the second of O’Gara’s penalties, the ball was missed by Ireland and Clerc delivered the killer blow.

“To lose like that is very disappointing. I remember the ball falling for the French from that kick off,” Boss said.

“They played on and all credit to them, they had two phases before Vincent scored. It’s hard to scramble when you’re up against that kind of player.

“With a minute to go there’s nothing worse than going behind because there’s isn’t the time to respond.

“When Ronan’s kick went over we were in a great position. We’d fought our way back into the game and to go four points ahead of them was superb.

“They didn’t really look like scoring until Clerc crossed. We were feeling confident.”

France coach Bernard Laporte showered his team with praise and was delighted to have secured victory over one of Les Bleus’ group opponents at the World Cup.

“Our spirit in the forwards was brilliant. We stuck to our task well. We’ll take some valuable experience from this performance,” said Laporte.

“We beat Argentina in the autumn and Ireland today, so now we’ve beaten two of our rivals in the World Cup group stages.”

Skipper Raphael Ibanez crossed for France with starting fly-half David Skrela booting eight points.

365 Digital

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