Six Nations: France 17-17 Ireland

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI

Ireland ended France's Grand Slam hopes by holding out to secure a draw in an entertaining Six Nations game in Paris.

The Irish had the better of the first half and two Tommy Bowe tries, the second a scintillating solo effort, helped them to a 17-6 interval lead.

France gained the upper hand after the break and a Wesley Fofana try helped them to make up their 11-point deficit.

Morgan Parra kicked four penalties for the French while Jonathan Sexton landed a penalty and two conversions.

Ireland made an impressive start and Sexton had a chance to open the scoring in the seventh minute after hooker Dimitri Szarzewski was penalised for holding on, but the fly-half pulled his penalty to the left of the posts.

Six minutes later, a wayward pass by centre Aurelien Rougerie was intercepted by Bowe, who had the simple task of running over to score under the posts for his 23rd international try.

Sexton added the conversion to give Ireland a morale-boosting and deserved 7-0 lead.

France responded by going on the attack and Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell was penalised for being offside at a ruck as their opponents bore down on the line.

Parra knocked over the resulting penalty to reduce the home side's deficit to four points, but Sexton was successful with his second penalty attempt soon after to make it 10-3.

Tommy Bowe scores Ireland's second try
Ireland's Tommy Bowe runs in for Ireland's second try after chipping the ball over Clement Poitrenaud

Parra struck a long-range penalty sweetly on the half-hour to again move his side to within four points of the Irish, but the scrum-half was off-target with another kick when Cian Healy was fortunate to stay on the pitch after being penalised for offside.

Two minutes before the break, Bowe produced a scintillating display of skill and pace to score his second try of the game with a superb solo effort.

Stephen Ferris passed to Keith Earls and he fed the Ospreys winger, who chipped the ball over the French defence and, with the bounce of the ball going in his favour, he ran on to cross the French line and touch down.

Sexton's conversion dropped between the posts off the upright to leave the score 17-6 at half-time.

France began the second half brightly and were rewarded for their enterprise when Parra kicked his third penalty from an acute angle after Ireland infringed.

France continued to enjoy the upper hand and Fofana's 51st-minute try swung the momentum firmly back in their favour.

A series of missed tackles and an unsuccessful attempted clearance kick by Earls allowed Fofana to gather the loose ball and the centre displayed electrifying speed to run 40 metres diagonally across the field and score in the corner despite Rob Kearney's desperate last-ditch tackle.

Parra missed the difficult conversion, but the relentless French pressure continued and Parra landed another penalty from near the halfway line to level the match.

Ireland lost Conor Murray with a knee injury, while Lionel Beauxis scuffed an ambitious drop-goal attempt, and another effort was charged down by Ferris.

The draw was the first between the sides since a 15-15 draw in Dublin in 1985.


France: 15-Clement Poitrenaud, 14-Vincent Clerc, 13-Aurelien Rougerie, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Julien Malzieu, 10-François Trinh-Duc, 9-Morgan Parra; 1-Jean-Baptiste Poux, 2-Dimitri Szarzewski, 3-Nicolas Mas, 4-Pascal Pape, 5-Yoann Maestri, 6-Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 7-Julien Bonnaire, 8-Imanol Harinordoquy

Replacements: 16-William Servat for Szarzewski (53), 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Lionel Nallet for Pape (61), 19-Louis Picamoles for Bonnaire (71), 20-Julien Dupuy, 21-Lionel Beauxis for Poitrenaud (68) , 22-Maxime Mermoz

Not used: 17- Vincent Debaty, 20-Julien Dupuy, 22- Maxime Mermoz

Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Tommy Bowe, 13-Keith Earls, 12-Gordon D'Arcy, 11-Andrew Trimble, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Conor Murray; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rory Best, 3-Mike Ross, 4-Donncha O'Callaghan, 5-Paul O'Connell (captain), 6-Stephen Ferris, 7-Sean O'Brien, 8-Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin for Best (75), 17-Tom Court for Healy (75), 18-Donnacha Ryan for O'Callaghan (58), 19-Peter O'Mahony for O'Brien (66), 20-Eoin Reddan for Murray (59), 21-Ronan O'Gara for D'Arcy (71), 22-Fergus McFadden for Trimble (73)


Referee: Dave Pearson (ENG)

Touch judges: Wayne Barnes & Andrew Small (both ENG)

TV: Geoff Warren (ENG)