France too strong for Ireland again

Ireland suffered their third Rugby World Cup warm up loss when they were beaten 22-26 by France Lansdowne Road on Saturday making it two successive wins over their opponents

The result for two-time Rugby World Cup finalists France means that they will start the Rugby World Cup brimming with confidence.

France coach Marc Lievremont – whose side beat the Irish 19-12 in Bordeaux last Saturday – will name his squad on Sunday while Declan Kidney names his on Monday.

France had the game in hand after scoring 26 unanswered points from the 25th
to 49th minutes to lead 26-8, and conceded two late converted tries after Ireland
cleared its bench.

Center Aurelien Rougerie, playing his first test since breaking his ankle in
May, shaded Ireland opposite and captain Brian O’Driscoll and set up a try for
fullback Cedric Heymans, and Morgan Parra put pressure on incumbent Dimitri
Yachvili with a solid performance behind the scrum and kicking tee.

Despite a flying start that saw Ireland lead 8-0 inside ten minutes, France
fought back to register a comprehensive defeat – and make it two wins from two
in their warm-up amtches with the Irish – that was barely reflected on the final

Cian Healy added a try to Jonathan Sexton’s early penalty to give the hosts
the perfect start but a five minute period in the first half, when France scored
13 unanswered points, proved the turning point.

Francois Trinh-Duc’s try early in the second half – after he intercepted a
careless wild pass by Tomas O’Leary – extended a lead the visitors would not

Late tries from Sexton and O’Brien were nothing more than a consolation.

Ireland will be concerned by more than just the scoreline however, with Healy
and full back Felix Jones both having departed the field injured.

Declan Kidney had expected more from this game, especially as he fielded what
was close to his strongest possible XV with winger Tommy Bowe still absent through
injury, and David Wallace a late withdrawal due to a hamstring injury.

There were ten changes to the side that lost 19-12 in Bordeaux last weekend,
with skipper Brian O’Driscoll and midfield partner Gordon D’Arcy starting in
midfield, while Paul O’Connell and Jamie Heaslip also made their first starts
this season.

Shane Jennings filled in for Wallace in the backrow, while Jones made his first
start for Ireland at full back.

There were plenty of changes in the visiting side too, with Marc Lievremont
retaining just Alexis Palisson and Dmitri Szarzewski from last weekend, with
the majority of the French players making their first appearance of the season.

Ireland, therefore, should have had the edge physically, and the tempo with
which they began the game was testament to that.

It took just two minutes for them to open the scoring through a penalty from
Sexton. Ireland attacked the French relentlessly and it was only a matter of
time before the breakthrough came.

Having stretched the French across the field, Healy was left in a one-on-one
with France scrum half Parra who was simply blown away by the Leinster prop,
who crossed to score his first international try in 20 appearances.

Sexton pushed the conversion wide, but Ireland deservedly led 8-0 with just
11 minutes gone.

France turned the match on its head in the space of five minutes, with Parra
opening his account with a straightforward penalty from just outside the 22-yard
line on 26.

Replacement punished a poor clearance by Tomas O’Leary to strike home a drop
goal from just inside the Irish half. Then came the French try as Aurelien Rougerie
cut through the Irish midfield with ease. Heymans ran a great support line to
run home in style and take the lead for the first time.

Parra adde

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