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Sports

France stun defending champions Ireland in Six Nations rugby

media France's Maxime Medard (centre) is tackled by Ireland's Eoin Reddan during their Six Nations tournament match at Stade de France near Paris on Saturday.

France beat two-time defending champions Ireland 10-9 in the Six Nations rugby tournament at Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

Riding on the only try of the game by Maxime Menard, France notched up its first win over Ireland since 2011 thus maintaining a winning start to the tournament.

The match started with the visitors dominating the youthful French side. Though they didn’t score any try, Ireland led by 9-3 at half time thanks to three penalty conversions by Jonathan Sexton. Jules Plisson opened the account for France with a penalty conversion of his own.

The French looked more energetic and purposeful in the second half. They were awarded a series of penalties in front of the posts and opted for three scrums instead of taking the points.

With the backing of a vociferous crowd, the pressure eventually paid off as full-back Medard got over the line after a pass by Maxime Machenaud in the 70th minute.

Plisson’s perfect kick ensured France score an unlikely one-point victory.

France coach Guy Noves termed the win as a job well done.

“I told the boys during the week that we felt they were in there, focused, involved. All in all, the efficiency of the players coming on and off showed massive solidarity in the squad. Those young kids, who were fragile last week, produced a huge performance against Ireland,” he said.

Noves said that the win was a result of the decision by captain Guilhem Guirado who decided to take the touch instead of the penalty.

After seven long minutes and a succession of scrums in front of the Irish posts, the decisive try arrived, Maxime Medard played in for a touchdown Jules Plisson converted.

“We were expecting to hear 'go for the three points', but he said ‘no’,” admitted prop Rabah Slimani, whose appearance along with Eddy Ben Arous galvanised the scrum and saw the French pack dominate the Irish for the final quarter.

Noves has backed his team to continue their winning momentum to the Six Nations, but urged them to keep themselves grounded for their next game against Wales.

France opened their campaign with a narrow 23-21 victory over Italy. They now face Wales, who after scoring a 16-all draw in their first match against Ireland, beat edged Scotland 27-23 on Saturday.

 

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