France put brutal end to Irish ambitions

France 33 Ireland 10

Ireland's ambition of defending the Grand Slam met a grim and brutal end as France coasted to an agonisingly-familiar victory amid sub-zero temperatures in Paris.

All week the Irish had stressed the importance of preventing the RBS 6 Nations favourites from establishing an unassailable lead, which they managed to triumphant effect in 2006 and 2008.

But the same scenario unfolded yet again with an irresistible France surging 17-3 ahead by half-time with tries from William Servat and Yannick Jauzion.

Ten of those points arrived while prop Cian Healy was in the sin-bin, guilty of an early tackle on Francois Trinh-Duc, with the kicking of Morgan Parra also keeping the scoreboard active.

Parra stoked up the sides' rivalry yesterday by accusing Ireland of being perennial cheats and voicing his lack of admiration for the champions, and today he stuck the boot in on the pitch with a near-flawless display headlined by 15 points.

France, expertly marshalled by fly-half Trinh-Duc, were magnificent as they stunned the shellshocked Irish with a mixture of power and ingenuity.

A try from Clement Poitrenaud and Parra's kicking added to the post-interval carnage to underline the gulf in class and the Les Bleus' title credentials.

Victory will taste all the sweeter knowing that Ireland arrived in Paris genuinely believing they could end their decade-long wait for success at the Stade de France.

Instead, Brian O'Driscoll's side utterly failed the first significant examination of their title defence to end their 12-match unbeaten run dating back to November 2008.

Given France's propensity for imploding, the race for the Six Nations is not over yet but Ireland were horribly exposed this afternoon and this defeat was far more painful than 2006 or 2008.

Both of those matches witnessed courageous fightbacks that almost reeled in the French, but apart from David Wallace's 65th-minute try they did not have the ability or will to respond today.

They trudged off shellshocked at the final whistle, yet a promising opening suggested they might finally be ready to improve their record of just one win in Paris in 28 years.

Powerful early runs from Stephen Ferris, included after missing out against Italy because of a knee injury, and Jamie Heaslip swept them five metres short of the line.

France's defence reacted sharply, however, with Jauzion bottling up O'Driscoll before the attack became lateral and fizzled out.

Gordon D'Arcy was denied a try by the bounce of the ball after he charged into space and chipped ahead with winger Vincent Clerc, so often Ireland's try-scoring nemesis, coming to the rescue.

Jerry Flannery was lucky to stay on the pitch after referee Wayne Barnes failed to punish him for a trip on winger Alexis Palisson.

The pendulum swung as Imanol Harinordoquy used his bulk to make ground, resulting in a yellow card for Healy as he held back the supporting Trinh-Duc.

Parra landed the penalty before a lineout catch and drive secured France 10 yards with the pressure then cranked up by four successive five-metre scrums.

Ireland, a man down and buckling ominously, conceded on two of them before France went wide, drawing defenders into a maul and then exploiting a large gap in front of the posts by sending Servat over.

Parra converted but a penalty from Ronan O'Gara reduced the deficit to 10-3 - until France produced their second try the on the half-hour mark.

Mathieu Bastareaud bulldozed his way through midfield and was stopped 10 metres short, but the ball found its way to Jauzion who slipped over untroubled.

The conversion was kicked by Parra and Ireland's problems mounted with the departure of injured full-back Rob Kearney.

Trailing 17-3, O'Gara declined two shots at goal in a pulsating end to the first half that saw France's whitewash come under sustained attack from short-range drives.

The TMO declined to give Clerc, who has crossed seven times in five matches against Ireland, a try five minutes after the restart but the champions continued to struggle.

Spending increasing amounts of time deep in their own half, they saw the impressive Trinh-Duc race inches short before Keith Earls put his side under pressure when he spilt a quickly-taken mark - summing up Ireland's afternoon.

Bastareaud showed strength to set up France's third try, slipping the scoring pass to Poitrenaud with Parra converting before the Clermont scrum-half added an audacious drop-goal.

Ireland replied with a try by David Wallace in the 65th minute, set up initially by Ferris with O'Driscoll producing the decisive pass and O'Gara converting.

But there was no fightback this time as substitute Frederic Michalak landed a drop goal to land the final blow.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London