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Croke Park - 11 February, 2007
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Vincent Clerc (number 14) celebrates with Christophe Dominici and Pascal Pape (R)
Match winner Vincent Clerc is mobbed by his French team-mates

Ireland (11) 17
Try: O'Gara
Pens: O'Gara (4)

France (13) 20
Tries: Ibanez, Clerc
Cons: Skrela, Beauxis
Pens: Skrela 2

A late Vincent Clerc try gave France a 20-17 win over Ireland in Sunday's RBS Six Nations match at Croke Park.

The French deservedly led 13-11 at half-time thanks to a Raphael Ibanez try and two penalties and a conversion by fly-half David Skrela.

Ronan O'Gara scored Ireland's only try and kicked the remainder of the points with four successful penalty attempts.

His 77th-minute penalty gave Ireland a 17-13 lead but Clerc crossed the line and Lionel Beauxis converted the try.

The French began in lively fashion and were rewarded for their early pressure when Skrela kicked a third-minute penalty after Paul O'Connell was penalised for killing the ball.

Six minutes later the fly-half added another three points from in front of the posts when Rory Best was adjudged to have interfered at a ruck.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the match

Ireland responded by opening their account with an O'Gara penalty but a 14th-minute try by hooker Ibanez put the visitors in control again.

The French captain broke through a weak Geordan Murphy tackle and then ploughed past the challenges of Marcus Horan and John Hayes to cross the Irish line.

France's players celebrate the final whistle at Croke Park
Ireland's players look on disbelief as France celebrate the final whistle

Skrela added the simple conversion to leave Ireland 13-3 in arrears.

The Irish started to enjoy more possesion and reduced their deficit with a 25th-minute O'Gara penalty, awarded after Christophe Dominici was penalised for offside.

On 32 minutes Ireland scored their only try of the game when O'Gara completed a fine move involving Denis Hickie, Shane Horgan and David Wallace by scoring in the corner but the record Irish points scorer was wide with his conversion kick.

Skrela missed with two penalty attempts before half-time, leaving his side with a two-point advantage at the interval.

Soon after the break Geordan Murphy sprinted towards the line after France lost possession but referee Steve Walsh had already blown his whistle for a knock-on without playing any advantage.

Ireland enjoyed sustained territorial advantage and took the lead for the first time on 56 minutes when O'Gara slotted over a simple penalty in front of the posts after Imanol Harinordoquy was adjudged to have come into a ruck from the side.

A pulsating second half continued at a frenetic pace and replacement Beauxis hit the post with a long-range drop goal attempt which would have put France ahead again.

With two minutes remaining O'Gara landed his fourth penalty to give his team a four-point lead but at the other end winger Clerc ran through the home defence two minutes later for a French try and Beauxis converted to make it 20-17.


Ireland: Dempsey; Murphy, D'Arcy, Horgan, Hickie; O'Gara, Boss; Horan, R Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, S Easterby, D Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Flannery, S Best, N Best, M O'Driscoll, Reddan, P Wallace, Trimble.

France: Poitrenaud; Clerc, Marty, Jauzion, Dominici; Skrela, Mignoni; Marconnet, Ibanez (capt), de Villiers, Nallet, Pape, Betsen, Harinordoquy, Chabal.
Replacements: Bruno, Milloud, Thion, Bonnaire, Yachvili, Beauxis, Heymans.

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)




SEE ALSO
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