France v Ireland – Story of the match
A dramatic ending in Paris saw Ireland get off to the perfect start.
Johnny Sexton’s monster drop-goal stole Ireland a last-gasp 15-13 NatWest 6 Nations victory over France in Paris.
The Ireland fly-half landed a long-range drop-goal in the third minute of added time, to pinch Joe Schmidt’s side a victory that had appeared already lost.
Teddy Thomas’ mazy solo try looked to have floored Ireland, as France conjured a 13-12 lead from nowhere in Jacques Brunel’s first game as Les Bleus boss.
But just when Ireland appeared beaten, Sexton unleashed a stunning drop-goal to wrestle victory – and keep hopes alive of a Grand Slam decider with England at Twickenham on March 17.
Tweet of the match
Former England centre Will Greenwood was lost for words after the dramatic end.
Player of the match – Johnny Sexton
Sexton was solid in defence but it was his kicking that won the game for Ireland as he routinely punished France for every indiscretion although he will want to forget about the penalty he dragged wide just before France went over for the game’s only try. But it was his drop-goal to snatch victory that will be remembered for a long time as after 40 phases of play had set him up, he landed a monster drop-goal to win it.
Moment of the match -Teddy Thomas try
In a game of few moments of genuine quality, Thomas’ try stood out. The France winger picked the ball up on the right 60 metres out from the Ireland line and stepped inside and cut through the visitors’ backline to slide in under the posts and leave a simple kick for Anthony Belleau to put France ahead.
France were made to pay for constant infringements to hand Ireland kickable penalties and it was even more criminal because Sexton rarely misses. Sebastien Vahaamahina twice conceded avoidable penalties and on both occasions he was punished by a ruthless Sexton. The second-rower endured a tough afternoon, conceding four penalties.
Ireland may have escaped Paris with victory but coach Joe Schmidt will not have been happy with their handling errors despite the difficult, slippy conditions. One drop under no pressure from the high ball from Rob Kearney particularly stood out, which luckily did not turn out to be costly. And the ease with which Thomas cut through the Ireland backline would have concerned the New Zealander. He will hope to see his side tighten up ahead of next week’s meeting with Italy in Dublin.
Who’s up next?
Ireland v Italy (Six Nations, Saturday, 10th February)
Scotland v France (Six Nations, Sunday 11th February)