Sunday 19 November 2017

Ruddock hails Irish effort after historic victory

France U-20 12 Ireland U-20 13

COACH Mike Ruddock said his charges were a credit to themselves after they carved out Ireland's first age-grade away win over France in Grenoble on Saturday.

And while Ruddock admitted that Ireland were fortunate to survive a decision by the television match official after France bundled the ball over the line in the dying moments, he felt the right call was made.

"Sometimes the wheels of fortune work for you, other times they go against you. It was a tight call, but the correct decision was made," he said.

"We talk to players about getting that one extra per cent out of everything, about putting in that little bit more.

"Fair play to the lads they way they got their bodies in there at the death -- they manufactured a situation where the TMO decision had to go in their favour.

"The TMO couldn't see if the ball was grounded so he couldn't award the try. On another day that decision might go against but you have got to work to give yourself every chance of it going in your favour."

Ireland's previous best result in an age-grade match in France was a 20-20 draw in February 2004 in an U-21 game; Saturday's win now gives them a great chance of having a crack at a Grand Slam last achieved in 2007, with home games to come against Italy and Scotland and then a possible title decider in England.

Ireland were chasing the game from the early stages after Bayonne's Clement Otazo edged the French in front with a penalty after two minutes.

But Ireland, as they did in the opening day win over Wales, kept their composure even when Otazo doubled the lead in the eighth minute with another penalty.

Ireland's defence was solid throughout and captain Paddy Jackson reduced the margin with a penalty from distance after 20 minutes, although the Ulsterman again suffered mixed fortunes with the boot.

Ireland hit the front after the restart, with centre Foster Horan -- introduced from the bench after losing his place from the Welsh game -- breaking down the left wing before cutting in to score a superb try under the posts. Jackson added the conversion to make it 10-6.

France hit back, however, with two more penalties from Otazo edging them in front.

Ireland had to endure 10 tense minutes while flanker Aaron Conneely was in the bin, but they survived and JJ Hanrahan, who took over the kicking duties when Jackson was replaced, landed the match-winning kick with a penalty from the right with eight minutes remaining.

France piled on the pressure in the dying moments and thought they had secured the win when Toulouse back-row Karl Chateau looked to have squeezed over, but TMO Derek Bevan ruled it inconclusive.

FRANCE -- D Domvo (Begles-Bordeaux); JY Zebango (Toulon), J Danty (Stade Français), I Perraux (Montpellier), Y Artru (Montpellier); C Otazo (Bayonne), T Ecochard (Perpignan); J Poirot (Brive), R Carbous (Perpignan), F Fresia (Toulon), B Chalureau (Toulouse), P Jedrasiak (Clermont Auvergne), K Galletier (Montpellier), J Kazubek (Clermont Auvergne), K Chateau (Toulouse). Reps: P Cotet (Perpignan) for Fresia (50), JC Fidinde (Clermont Auvergne) for Carbou (51), F Catala (Perpignan) for Otazo (59), E Escande (Montpellier) for Ecochard (68), A Chauveau (Begles-Bordeaux) for Jedrasiak (71), J Aliouat (Montpellier) for Chalureau (71).

IRELAND -- S Layden (Connacht); C Finn (Connacht), C Farrell (Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (Munster), S Coghlan-Murray Leinster); P Jackson (Ulster), L McGrath (Leinster); K McCall (Ulster), N Scannell (Munster), P Reilly (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), D Qualter (Connacht); C Gilsenan (Leinster), A Conneely (Connacht), J Conan (Leinster). Reps: F Horan (Leinster) for Coghlan-Murray (30), T Beirne (Leinster) for Qualter (59), K Marmion (Connacht) for McGrath (68), J Coghlan (Leinster) for Conneely (68), James Rael (Munster) for Reilly (71), D Merrey (Leinster) for Scannell (71), C Marsh (Leinster) for Jackson (71).

Ref -- N Hennessy (Wales).

Irish Independent

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