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'I was very disappointed, like everyone would be' - Johnny Sexton defends his reaction to being taken off in Paris


Johnny Sexton breaks through to score a try

Johnny Sexton breaks through to score a try

Johnny Sexton breaks through to score a try

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has defended his reaction to being substituted in his side's defeat to France.

The 35-year-old Leinster out-half was replaced by his provincial deputy Ross Byrne with 11 minutes remaining in the 35-27 loss that ended Ireland's hopes of a Six Nations title.

Television footage captured Sexton giving a long, unhappy look towards the coaches' box, before shaking his head as he left the field.

"I was very disappointed coming off, like everyone would be," he said.

"You're losing the game and you're coming off, so what would you like me to be doing?

"It was disappointment that we didn't win the game.

"We were 28-20 down with 10, 12 minutes to go, we had a 5m lineout and we didn't capitalise.

"They are just the moments we'll look back on and regret."

The Ireland out-half lamented his side's error count in the defeat.

"At this level you can't give teams scores from your mistakes. You need to make them work hard," he said.

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"We had to work unbelievably hard for our scores and we weren't good enough when we got I don't know how many five-metre lineouts we had, some five-metre scrums. We knew that was going to be the case.

"We studied them hard, but there were a couple of tries,a couple of our mistakes obviously, and a couple of moments of brilliance by them.

"We knew they would have their moments but I thought at times we coped with them well, and in others we didn't put enough pressure on them.

"We knew they could score out of nothing, and that's another reason why we were quite aggressive with our decision making."

"The conditions were very, very tough. You get the new balls on the film on them, then with how greasy it was, the ball's like a bar of soap.

"And of course it's easier when you're winning the game because you don't need the ball.

"I'm surprised we got as many set-pieces as we did.

"But it's easier playing those conditions when you're winning because you don't need the ball.

"They capitalised on our mistakes."

Sexton stood by what he described as a 'brave decision' to go for the corner, rather than take the three points on offer, on the stroke of half-time.

It felt like a risky call at the time, and so it proved as Ireland coughed up the ball, which gave France a huge boost going into the break.

Ireland were unable to wrestle back momentum after the restart, as France picked holes in the defence, en route to running out convincing 35-27 winners at the Stade de France.

Sexton, who was visibly furious when he was replaced by Ross Byrne on 69 minutes, was left to rue a missed opportunity to win the Six Nations title, which ultimately went to England.

“I felt that they took their opportunities really well, sometimes off nothing, off our mistakes even, and we weren't ruthless enough when we had the chance,” Sexton said.

"We had the chance to score, a few chances to score from five metres out. We had the chance to go for the try (at the end of the first half), a brave decision to try and get another try and we were very close but we weren't accurate enough.

"It's going to be tough to look at over the next week or so.”

Sexton admitted that Ireland went in search of tries, although they knew that a bonus point win wasn't necessarily all they needed to be crowned champions.

“We obviously saw the other results and knew that we had to win by more than six (points) or else win with the bonus point, so we tried to do a mixture of it,” the skipper added.

"We tried to make some brave calls and go for some tries, because we felt there was some space there to be exploited. But we weren't good enough to go and take it.

"We're looking forward to the new (Autumn Nations Cup) competition. Today is going to hurt but we've got some very important players coming back for us, some new players to come in as well, so I'm looking forward to bouncing back from this disappointment.”

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