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Bowe desperate to seize initiative and end Paris horror run

IT did not garner much attention in the post-game analysis, but last weekend's win over Italy was a statistically significant one for Tommy Bowe.

Two more tries, adding to the one he scored in the opening defeat to Wales, brought his tally to 22 from 46 caps, pushing him into the top three on the list of Ireland try-scorers behind Brian O'Driscoll (45 from 117) and Denis Hickie (29 from 62).

In terms of strike rate, he is the best of the best, scoring a try every 2.09 games ahead of Hickie (2.13) and O'Driscoll (2.6) and has gained a reputation as one of rugby's foremost finishers (you would have backed Bowe to score the try that David Strettle failed to ground for England last weekend).

Wingers are picked to contribute much more than tries and Bowe is one of Ireland's most potent sources of momentum, be it from chasing kicks or crashing through midfield.

But tries are the ultimate barometer and it is hard to think of any winger, aside from Scotland's Roger Baird in the 1980s, getting a prolonged run in the side without scoring.

Baird was a quality wide man who was good enough to play four Tests for the Lions in 1983, but he played 27 times for Scotland without bagging a touchdown, whereas Bowe signalled his intent from his debut appearance against Scotland in 2004.

He was a fringe player for the next four years and missed the 2007 World Cup but, since 2008, the Monaghan man has made the No 14 jersey his own, making a superb contribution to the Grand Slam and Lions tour in 2009 and gaining cult status among supporters along the way.

Now it is France, in Paris, where he goes up against the sensational winger Julien Malzieu, who is the same age and comes from the same mould as Bowe -- a tall, powerful runner who knows how to score and make scores for others.

However, rather than focus on the French, Bowe (due to play his rugby in Ireland again next season with Ulster) said this game comes down to how the Irish set about correcting their horror run in the French capital. "It's a huge game for us," said Bowe.

"We played them last year and we lost, but we still scored three tries to one. Our indiscipline really cost us and whenever we go to the Stade de France, we really can't give them the opportunities to score points and easy penalties, kicking into the corners and scrums.

"So it's a case of trying to put the pressure on, but at the same time we'll try to play our own game. Both teams will be looking for a big start. In the past we have given them a huge head start and we've kind of pulled it back. So we have to try to stay in the game as long as we can."

Bowe also highlighted the need for Ireland to play a territory game and get into scoring positions. "Our problem is really getting out of our own half," he said.

"Between Wales and Italy, whenever we've got down there we've got points and scored quite a few tries. So the big thing for us now is to try to spend more time in the opposition's half.

"For myself, it's always nice to get onto the score-sheet. Obviously, it's disappointing that my try didn't count for much in the Welsh match, but last week against Italy we scored five tries, which was great. We have a big few weeks coming and hopefully I will get on the score-sheet again.

"We've got off to a winning start after the break and hopefully we'll get on a roll and we can roll it on from there in Paris."

Irish Independent