Tuesday 20 March 2018

Last-gasp heartbreak for Ireland as French fight back

Ireland U-19 8 France U-19 12

Conor Oliver, Ireland U-19
Conor Oliver, Ireland U-19

IRELAND came within two minutes of completing a double over France at Templeville Road.

Irish coach Colin McEntee took the decision to put out just one player, Jack Owens, from last Thursday's 31-20 defeat of France in the first of two Test matches, while the French stuck with 10 of their original selection.

It didn't show at all as Ireland surprised their guests at the scrum and had effective operators in flanker Conor Oliver, lock Josh Davidson, No 8 Ross Todd and full-back Stephen Fitzgerald.

Ireland were compact in around the fringes from where they generated a penalty chance for Josh Bingham and a gilt-edged try-scoring opening for Greg O'Shea, who had the ball dislodged in contact.

Typically, the French came to life in first-half injury-time off the back of a maul, their best weapon. The Irish body angles were too high to cope with it. Scrum-half Charlie Cassang wriggled free for the breakthrough try. Lucas Meret converted from the touchline for 7-0 at the break.

Ireland struck back from their own steaming maul and Young's pass on the short side put Cian O'Donoghue to reduce the deficit to 7-5 in the 47th minute.

They were soon ahead when France drifted offside and replacement fly-half Tomas Quinlan put Ireland in front with a penalty, but French full-back Valentin Saurs touched down in injury-time.

Ireland – S Fitzgerald; G O'Shea (S McMahon 53), J Owens, F Cleary, C O'Donoghue; J Bingham (T Quinlan 52), C Young (C Rock 52); M Lagan (L O'Connor 55), S Weir (P O'Toole 60), M O'Donnell (J Loughman 55), C Romaine (A Thompson 53), J Davidson (S McVeigh 65), M Kelly, C Oliver, R Todd.

Irish Independent

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