Six Nations | Ireland storm to bonus point win over France

David Smith

Ireland have cruised to a 26-14 victory over France in Dublin.

Rory Best, Johnny Sexton, and substitute Jack Conan scored first half tries as a dominant Ireland entered the interval with a deserved 19-0 lead at the Aviva Stadium.

Keith Earls scored his 30th international try – and Ireland’s fourth – in the second half to secure a bonus point for Joe Schmidt’s men.

Two tries from Yoann Huget and Arthur Iturria in the final four minutes restored some respectability to the scoreline for Jacques Brunel’s visitors, who were second best throughout.

Best’s third-minute try set the tone; the Ireland captain crossing the white line from close range after breaking away from the maul in the corner.

Sexton converted to make it 7-0, but France almost hit back immediately.

Les Blues thought they had scored a try, but the TMO ruled that Damien Penaud had knocked the ball on in the buildup.

The TMO ruled out an Ireland try on the quarter hour mark, with Cian Healy adjudged to have been unable to exert any downward pressure on the ball after intense Irish pressure.

France struggled to cope with the reigning Grand Slam champions, and conceded five penalties before the 30th minute.

Ireland scored their second try in the 29th minute, with Sexton diving over the line after being set up by Garry Ringrose.

The try was Sexton’s first in 30 Test matches, a drought which had stretched back to 2015. The Leinster star converted to make it 14-0.

Ringrose had a try of his own ruled out four minutes later, but Ireland showed no signs of slowing down.

Rob Kearney missed out through injury at short notice, with Jordan Larmour subsequently moving from the bench to a starting role.

Josh van der Flier also had to be withdrawn midway through the first half, and it was his replacement who notched Ireland’s third try in the 36th minute.

Iain Henderson stole the ball in the France 22, and Conor Murray eventually found Conan who crossed the line to make it 19-0.

Sexton missed the chance to extend Ireland’s lead from the conversion, but Schmidt will have been pleased with the opening 40 minutes of his final home Six Nations match at the helm.

Stander set up Earls for Ireland’s fourth try in the 56th minute, and Sexton converted before making way for Jack Carty as Schmidt rang the changes.

France lost Dorian Aldegheri to a yellow card in the 68th minute, but the away side finished strongly to salvage some pride.

Ireland haven’t kept a shutout against France for 90 years, and Brunel’s side ensured that record will endure for now.

In the 77th minute, Yoann Huget scored under the posts after being teed up by Gregory Aldritt.

Baptiste Serin converted, and France had time for a second try before the final whistle.

The French drove over the line from a lineout, and the officials eventually ruled that the ball had been grounded by Aldritt.

Serin’s second coversion was the last kick of the game.

Bring on Cardiff next week.

Author Profile

David Smith
David is a 27-year-old journalist from County Meath.

He has previously worked for RTÉ and Australian Associated Press, and has been published by publications including The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, ESPN and Fox Sports.