France put themselves in pole position for the championship title by pulling off a thrilling 30-24 victory
Indiscipline contributed to Ireland blowing their Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam hopes in Paris according to stand-in skipper James Ryan.J
France put themselves in pole position for the championship title by pulling off a thrilling 30-24 victory over the in-form Irish in Saturday’s sold-out crunch clash at Stade de France.
Andy Farrell’s spirited side scored three tries to Les Bleus’ two and threatened a stunning comeback from 22-7 down.
But they struggled to contain the hosts’ imposing forward pack and were left to rue some costly indiscretions as France full-back Melvyn Jaminet expertly landed six penalties to keep Fabien Galthie’s pre-tournament favourites on course for a first title in 12 years.
“It was very tough and they’re a very serious pack,” Leinster lock Ryan said of the physical test in the French capital.
“When you give them access into the game through little mistakes, handling errors and a little bit of indiscipline at times, the whole game becomes much harder.
“The big thing for us is limiting their entries into the game, which maybe we let ourselves down with at times.”
Ireland have two weeks to reflect on a bonus-point loss which ended their nine-match winning run but was far from doom and gloom.
France captain Antoine Dupont dived over inside 67 seconds during a pulsating start and, despite Mack Hansen swiftly reducing arrears with his maiden international try, Jaminet’s unerring accuracy with the boot kept the hosts in control on the scoreboard.
The Irish refused to roll over and quick-fire second-half scores from Josh Van Der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park, plus nine points from fly-half Joey Carbery, increased the tension on the terraces.
Cyril Baille’s try briefly eased the nerves before Jaminet’s final three points of an exceptional evening of rugby eventually wrapped things up.
Ryan, who deputised as captain due to Johnny Sexton’s hamstring injury, says Ireland will learn from the loss ahead of hosting Italy on February 27.
“It was nothing we didn’t expect coming to Stade de France,” said the 25-year-old.
“It’s always going to be a very, very tough game. But hopefully we showed we were able to live well with that intensity.
“We showed great spirit to claw our way back into the game but, look, it was an intense game and we’ll take loads from it.”
After returning to action at home to the Italians, Ireland travel to England on March 12 before completing the tournament a week later against Scotland in Dublin.
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