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.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine