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Fabulous Irish Fightback Just Comes Up Short

11th February 2006 By Munster Rugby

Fabulous Irish Fightback Just Comes Up Short

Trailing 43-3 at one stage in the second half, Ireland produced perhaps the best comeback in the history of the game, scoring four converted tries, before losing 43-31 in Paris.

Trailing 43-3 at one stage in the second half, Ireland produced perhaps the best comeback in the history of the game, scoring four converted tries, before losing 43-31 in Paris.

And least there be any consideration that the French took their foot off the pedal, let it be understood that Ireland’s riposte to that scoreline was to cut out the mistakes and play a brand of football that they the French would have been proud of.

Such was the splendour of the Irish performance in the final quarter that the French were happy to hoof the ball away at every opportunity and amazingly, in the end, it was they who longed for the final whistle.

Consider also that of the four tries that the French scored in the opening half , three were down to basic errors. Again in the second half, the second of their tries could be put down to good fortune rather than good play, while Ireland’s tries,when they eventually came, were fashioned from pressure, created and finished with panache.

Strange as it might seem, given they were 40 points down with 55 minutes played, Ireland could and possibly should have won this game.They played the French off the park in the final quarter.

But besides that they showed extraordinary character to haul themselves back from a seemingly impossible and patently embarrassing situation to earn the respect of every onlooker. In doing so, even in defeat, they announced thir arrival as serious contenders. And not just for the Triple Crown.

The French opened with that try from Rougerie after Tommy Bowe came in off his wing, got caught badly and the Frenchman stepped around Geordan Murphy’s attempted touchline. tackle.

Next up was a try for Olivier Magne who benefitted from a mix-up btween Murphy and Denis Leamy and after Ronan O’Gara was wide with a long range penalty effort an attempted clearance by the out-half was blocked by David Marty who gathered and scored try number three.

O’Gara’s penalty on 28th minutes to open Ireland’s account was cancelled out from the restart by a similar effort from Jean-Baptiste Ellisalde but matters got even worse when Murphy’s wild inside pass to a Brian O’Driscoll was easily intercepted by Cedric Heymans to amble in uunder the posts.

29-3 down at the break, Heymans was on the mark just after the restart and it went out to 43-3 when Marty scored his second after he collected an attempted kick-through by O’Gara.

O’Gara’s 56th minute try and conversion seemed to offer nothing more than a degree of respectability.In fact it signalled perhaps one of the greatest come-backs in the history of the game.

Gordon D’Arcy scored next followed by Donncha O’Callaghan, who had come on as a 49th minute replacement for Malcolm O’Kelly and six minutes of normal time remaining, Brian O’Driscoll set up the try for Andy Trimble that had the home support chewing their nails.

And Ireland pounded away at the French line in those closing minutes, stopped agonisingly close on several occasions.

In the end, it was the clock that denied Ireland a famous victory.

Ireland: G Murphy; S Horgan, B O’Driscoll, capt (Reddan 80 min), G D’Arcy, T Bowe (A Trimble); R O’Gara, P Stringer; R Corrigan (S Best 49 min), J Flannery, J Hayes, M O’Kelly (O’Callaghan 49 min), P O’Connell, S Easterby, D Wallace, D Leamy.

France: C Dominici; A Rougerie, F Fritz, D Marty, C Heymans; F Michalak (B Boyet 72 min), JB Elissalde (D Yachvili 59 min); O Milloud (S Marconnet 59 min), R Ibanez (S Bruno 46 min), P de Villiers; F Pelous capt, J Thion; Y Nyanga (L Nailet 74 min), O Magne (R Martin temp & 59 min), J Bonnaire.

Referee: Paul Honiss.

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