x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The defrosted France and Ireland match ends in a draw

The rearranged Six Nations rugby game in Paris ended in a 17-17 stalemate after the home side put in a spirited second-half comeback.

France's scrum-half Morgan Parra, centre, passes the ball in the Six Nations tournament match against Ireland
France's scrum-half Morgan Parra, centre, passes the ball in the Six Nations tournament match against Ireland

PARIS // Paul O'Connell, the Ireland captain, spoke of his frustration and disappointment after his side were denied a rare away victory over France by a second-half fightback from the home side in yesterday's rearranged Six Nations showdown.

Two tries by Tommy Bowe - taking his tally to five for the tournament - and seven points from Jonathan Sexton with Morgan Parra kicking two penalties gave the Irish a 17-6 half-time lead.

However, a try by Wesley Fofana - making it three in three matches - and two more penalties by Parra levelled the game and denied the Irish their first win here since 2000 and only their third in 30 years, in the match originally scheduled for three weeks ago, but postponed because of a frozen pitch.

"To be ahead at half time and then get that result is disappointing," O'Connell said.

"It is frustrating not to win. We played good rugby in the first half but in the second half there were a few penalties I would like to have a look at. This was a great opportunity to win- we didn't take it."

Declan Kidney, the Ireland coach, praised his team's efforts.

"We have been in two close matches now, the boys put in a huge effort," he said. "We said at half time that we needed to be true to ourselves and don't try and do anything magical. These games are decided by tight margins."

The tie ended French chances of the Six Nations Grand Slam and Fofana said: "It's great to score another try but it's frustrating to end up with a draw which ends our Grand Slam hopes," he said.

The Irish broke the deadlock shortly before the quarter-of-an-hour mark as Bowe intercepted Aurelien Rougerie's long pass out to Clement Poitrenaud and ran in to touch down under the posts and Sexton kicked the conversion to make it 7-0.

The French took their time to break into Irish territory but when they did they carved out a good opening which was only stopped as Conor Murray went offside but Parra stepped up to kick the resulting penalty.

However, the French were promptly penalised at their end and Sexton slotted it over to restore the seven point gap.

Parra, though, quickly reduced it as he converted a penalty from just inside the Irish half - the ball creeping over the bar.

The Irish then fashioned a try out of nothing just before the break.

Breaking out of their 22-metre area Keith Earls offloaded to Bowe and the 28-year-old winger broke one tackle before chipping ahead and outstripping Poitrenaud to touch down - Sexton's conversion went in off the post to give the visitors a healthy 17-6 half-time advantage.

That became 17-9 in the 47th minute as Parra made no mistake with a penalty from wide out on the left.

The lead was reduced further three minutes later when Fofana's individual brilliance saw him win the ball outside the Irish 22 and using his electric speed he beat Rob Kearney to touch down in the corner. Parra missed the conversion attempt to leave the Irish holding on to a 17-14 lead but he had them all square shortly before the hour mark as he landed a long range penalty.

The Irish ill-fortune continued within seconds as Murray went to ground clutching his knee in agony and had to be carried off on a stretcher to be replaced at scrum-half by Eoin Reddan.