A poor performance from Ireland in the Six Nations finale clash brought great disappointment, to fans and players alike.
England’s 29 point win over Italy set the scene for this historically stellar match between the top two teams in the Six Nations competition.
The bonus point for Eddie Jones’s side meant Ireland had to win by six points vs France in order to be crowned champions.
This is something which the men in green would have been quietly confident of achieving but to no avail.
France was first out of the blocks, with halfbacks Gael Fickou and Antoine Dupont linking up to score a try in the 6th minute, with Ntamack converting the kick to make it 7-0 to the home side.
This looked like it was to be matched soon after by Ireland, as Johnny Sexton played a kick through to Hugo Keenan but the ball was flicked into touch illegally by Anthony Bouthier.
Although a penalty try wasn’t awarded, a yellow card was given to Bouthier and France denied Ireland a score.
Soon afterward on his 100th cap, Cian Healy scored a try to mark the occasion but ultimately came out worse for wear. While changing his guards, Healy was replaced momentarily by Ed Bern, launched into his second test game ever.
After the try, Ireland experienced a purple patch, with Sexton converting a penalty to put them into the lead for the first time in the 25th minute.
Although they continued to dominate the game, Ireland was making costly mistakes. Some of these culminated in that of Jacob Stockdale.
Playing as number 15, the 24-year-old made many handling mistakes, and questions have to be posed as to why he wasn’t started on the wing instead.
Ireland’s Caelen Doris was then sin-binned after a late tackle on Francois Cros. Referee Wayne Barns awarded a penalty try, making it 14 points to 10 in Frances favor, just before the half-hour mark.
Sexton and Ntamack battled it out to convert penalties, with Ireland winning a crucial score before halftime. Sexton kicked it to the corner as a mark of intent, but it didn’t pay dividends in the end, leaving the score at halftime 17-13.
Ireland’s aspirations were quickly smothered in the second half when France converted a try by Dupont and the mistakes began to run rampant.
Lineouts were a huge problem for Andy Farrell’s side, as were knock-ons, discipline, and ultimately tactics as the French went on to put up 21 points in the second half.
Ireland’s Henshaw and Stockdale did get consolation scores but it wasn’t to be Ireland’s day. The final scoreboard, reading France 35 Ireland 27.
This result meant Six Nations success for England who would have been watching intently from hotel rooms in Rome, but a bitter disappointment for Ireland and their fans looking on to the future.
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