Ireland beat France to win the Six Nations

Ireland held off a late challenge in Paris to beat France 20-22 and win the Six Nations championship on Points Difference.

The match was Brian O’Driscoll’s final match with Ireland and he will retire with a Six nations title. He was also named man of the match.

England and France both finished on 8 points in the standings but Ireland’s points difference was greater than England’s by 10 points.

France had a try disallowed two minutes from full time for a forward pass that would have won them the match and England the championship.

In a compelling match at the Stade de France, France held a 13-12 half-time
lead thanks to two Maxime Machenaud penalties and a conversion of Brice Dulin’s
try, while Ireland scored two tries through Jonny Sexton and Andrew Trimble,
the former missing two of his three kicks.

Sexton converted his second try early in the second period, followed by a penalty,
but France fired back through a Dimitri Szarzewski try after some sustained
pressure, Machenaud converting to make it 22-20.

French replacement Jean-Marc Doussain missed a penalty attempt with 10 minutes
to play and the Irish defence held out, despite a late disallowed Damien Chouly
try, to secure only their second win over France in Paris in 42 years and hand
O’Driscoll the perfect send-off.

Ireland scored three tries – Jonathan Sexton getting two – to France’s two
in a pulsating encounter to see them to only their second win in Paris in 42
years. Fittingly the last time in 2000 O’Driscoll was also in the side and scored
a hat-trick of tries.

“The emotions are starting to kick in now,” O’Driscoll told BBC.

“It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner. So many seconds along
the years and so many disappointments, it is great to finish my career on a
high. When I do hang this jersey up on the hook inside it will be with fond
memories.

“I am absolutely delighted. There is a huge Irish contingent here and
I am glad we gave them something to shout about.”

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell added: “It is fantastic. We are delighted
for Ireland and the people back home and also for Brian O’Driscoll and his family
– for him to have a great finish to his career is great for everyone involved.”

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre was left crestfallen by the nail-biting defeat.

“No one can say after today’s performance that this team can’t play rugby
or lacks the hunger to do so,” he said of his much-criticised squad.

“We lost, which shows how cruel sport is at the highest level.”

France won a penalty in the second minute after Steve Walsh penalised Chris
Henry and Maxime Machenaud converted it for 3-0.

The Irish were taking time to settle and Dave Kearney cost them another penalty
in the 14th minute when he failed to release the ball in the tackle – Machenaud
made no mistake to make it 6-0.

Ireland finally made some headway into French territory and through a well
worked phase of play Sexton was on hand to take a brilliant one-handed pass
from Chris Henry to touch down. He missed the relatively easy conversion, however.

The Irish, though, had their tails up and when Louis Picamoles -recalled after
being suspended for the Scotland match – knocked on in dropping a simple catch
deep inside French territory they took full advantage.

Scrum-half Conor Murray broke into the 22 and offloaded to Trimble, who made
no mistake to go over under the posts – this time Sexton made no mistake putting
the Irish ahead for the first time 12-6 after 26 minutes.

However, the French came storming back and after being kept at bay by some
fierce Irish defending on their line on the left hand side, fly-half Remi Tales
put in a high crossfield kick to the other side where Yoann Hu

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