Johnny Sexton seals late win for Ireland in Paris

Feb 07, 2018, 01:17
Johnny Sexton seals late win for Ireland in Paris

With Machenaud off the pitch, replacement fly-half Anthony Belleau stepped up to give France an unlikely 13-12 lead with just minutes left on the clock. In the last moment, something caught my eye and I was just happy to get another chance to get victory for the boys.

It's that time of the year when Six Nations Rugby returns to our screens, with five physically intense rounds of competition spread across February and Match. In last year's championship, their team doctor said that prop Uini Atonio needed to go off for an HIA, allowing renowned scrummager Rabah Slimani to reappear for a series of crucial scrums on the Welsh line.

France went into the tournament off the back off a awful autumn campaign in which they failed to win any of their four fixtures.

However, with new France coach Jacques Brunel making some bold choices, including naming teenager Matthieu Jalibert at flyhalf, Schmidt said even the most recent performance should matter little.

Jalibert has only 15 appearances for club side Bordeaux-Begles in the French Top 14 league. The Kiwi was widely ridiculed this time past year for complaining in the wake of Ireland's opening day defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield that the team bus had been late arriving at the stadium and implying that might have been a factor behind his team's slow start.

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Moreover, they are now on an eight-game winning streak and have registered 11 wins in 13 matches.

Included in the Leinster contingent is lock James Ryan, who will make his Six Nations debut on Saturday.

Ireland go into the match in Paris on the back of seven successive wins, including a record 38-3 home victory against South Africa and a 28-19 victory over the Pumas.

Twenty minutes after giving Ireland the lead, Sexton stepped up again to put yet more daylight between the two sides after Yacouba Camara was penalised.

But Sexton, who earlier missed a regulation penalty, had the last say with a drop goal from almost half-way.

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"When [referee] Nigel Owens stopped the game he tapped his head to signal a suspected head injury".

Belleau added the extras to give France a slender advantage, but failed to land a penalty and that proved to be costly, Sexton staying calm to steady himself and launch a superb kick through the posts from around 40 metres out with the clock in the red following phase after phase of Ireland pressure.

Ireland had dominated, according to most of the statistics.

Sexton then sent a penalty wide and, with six minutes remaining, France struck in glorious fashion.

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