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Result: France 25-3 Ireland

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606: DEBATE

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By Rob Hodgetts

80 mins: Ireland try to salvage some late pride by flinging it wide to the right but the final ball flies into touch to cap a miserable night. The whistle ends their humilation as France live to fight another day. For Ireland, it more than likely will leave them needing a bonus-point win against Argentina in their final group game in Paris on 30 September.

77 mins: France defend Ireland's rare incursion and shunt them back 30 yards to effectively close the door.

74 mins: Ireland try to break out from their own try-line and Brian O'Driscoll makes about 20 yards but there's just no way through. Ronan O'Gara sticks a chip over the top and the chase is on but when the next phase develops, Damien Traille is sin-binned for not retreating 10 at the penalty. Ireland are running everything and funnily enough get to within yards of the line. Why not earlier, you ask?

72 mins: The French rolling maul is building up a head of steam as they rumble into the Ireland 22. The ball is spun wide right but Ireland defend well and are glad to welcome back the sin-binned Paul O'Connell when the ball goes dead.

70 mins: Ireland edge into French territory but they are hounded backwards by a determined and spirited defence. Ireland infringe again and France, knowing they need two more tries for a bonus point, pump the ball into the corner.

68 mins: TRY France 25-3 Ireland
The French, spurred on by a rousing chorus of La Marseillaise, rumble forward with a powerful scrum in midfield. Fly-half Frederic Michalak tries another little chip over the top for Vincent Clerc, Ireland's Six Nations nemesis, who bounces off a couple of Irishmen to muscle over.

66 mins: France think they've scored an easy try off a quick close-range line-out but referee Chris White is unprepared and orders it to be taken again.

65 mins: Dangerous times for Ireland. They've got to chance their arm but in doing so, the game could open up and France could run in three quick tries for their much-needed bonus point.

63 mins: Ireland are absolutely.... in deep trouble. Paul O'Connell is spotted dragging the jumper down in the line-out and gets 10 minutes in the bin for his effort. They've not only got to climb a mountain but they've got to dig themselves out of a cave at the bottom first.

62 mins: To add insult to injury, France win another penalty but Ireland escape when Jean-Baptiste Elissalde misses.

59 mins: TRY France 20-3 Ireland
That's torn it. What a cracker! France spin the ball left and Frederic Michalak drops it in one flowing move to his boot and side-foots it high into the corner for Vincent Clerc to gather and touch down unopposed. Jean-Baptiste Elissalde just misses with his conversion.

55 mins: A crucial steal from Julien Bonnaire sets up a promising French attack but they are penalised for a bit of "shoe" and Ireland breathe easy. Or easier, anyway. They're on the rack and they can ill-afford any more points against them.

53 mins: PENALTY France 15-3 Ireland
Ireland concede another penalty for lifting a player off his feet in the maul and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde scampers up to knock it over.

51 mins: "Fields of Athenry" rings out as the Irish sense they need to get back into this game pretty smartish. But they're not helping themselves as Simon Easterby floors Frederic Michalak late and gets a stern talking to and a finger point.

48 mins: Ireland's line-out call begins with "B" and ends in "ulls**it" and leads to Ireland's best attack for a long while. France defend well and shuttle Ireland across the park.

46 mins: Noise levels rise again as France rumble forward at pace, with good interplay among the pack. But the forwards get the hump when they agree to let the backs have a go and David Marty spills it in front of him.

45 mins: French icon Sebstien Chabal is going off, to be replaced by Lionel Nallet. It's tactical, rather than for an injury. Been fairly quiet, Chabal.

44 mins: Danger here for Ireland. Scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde dashes down the blind-side in the company of Vincent Clerc but the move ultimately promises more than it delivers.

42 mins: Ireland look fired-up and Ronan O'Gara hoofs a massive high ball deep in France territory. Clement Poitrenaud catches and calls the mark and sets off on a counter but Brian O'Driscoll drills him into the floor. Poitrenaud gets up gingerly and takes his mark but Ireland retrieve the ball and O'Gara thumps it back down there.

"Bone-cruncher by BOD,more of them please."
Leo, Ireland, via text

41 mins: Here come the players again. What a 40 minutes of rugby this promises to be. For the victors, a World Cup campaign back on track. For the losers, shame, ignominy and a journey home.

Half-time: "Wish ROG drop goal was the turning point. Ireland will be down to 14 men if they keep on giving up penalties on the line. Have to get the first score of the second half no matter what it is."
Football_Crazy_Eire on 606

38 mins: PENALTY France 12-3 Ireland
Scrum in midfield in Ireland's half. Green put-in and they clear, but only as far as Cedric Heymans on the French left wing. Les Bleus pump the ball deep into the left corner and Shane Horgan is forced to run it into touch. France win the line-out and Sebastien Chabal peels off and ploughs into the green wall. Serge Betsen gets the next crack, then Jean-Baptiste Elissalde. When the ball is rifled left, Ireland stray offside in their eagerness to defend and skipper Raphael Ibanez steps in to instruct Elissalde to go for goal. Which he does. Successfully.

36 mins: DROP-GOAL France 9-3 Ireland
Ireland win a penalty but play the advantage and fire the ball back to Ronan O'Gara, who slots a drop to keep his side in touch.

33 mins: Ireland mount a strength-sapping rolling maul in midfield with hooker Jerry Flannery at the back with the ball marshalling his troops. But Ireland open-side David Wallace gives away a penalty and gets a lecture for wiping his foot on the prostrate Sebastien Chabal. Ireland's indiscipline is costing them dear but they escape this time as Frederic Michalak drags his long-range effort left.

32 mins: And there it is. Just as I mention a lack of physical stuff we get our first handbags as Ireland are fortunate to get a penalty with France just yards from their line. A bit of a lecture for both sides from referee Chris White but the penalty stays with Ireland and Ronan O'Gara clears.

29 mins: No real biffo yet. Shame, if you like that sort of thing, though youngsters - it's not clever, right? Maybe it's because France are intent on playing rugby. They break down the left through Serge Betsen and recycle well as play reaches the right flank. Ireland are under the cosh and eventually give away a penalty for handling in the ruck. France kick for touch despite being in the 22.

27 mins: Serge Besten has blood streaming from his face, while Sebastien Chabal, much-vaunted before the match, is keeping his head down and playing solidly, rather than spectacularly.

25 mins: France break out as Pieter de Villiers receives treatment on the pitch but full-back Clement Poitrenaud slices his kick and gives Ireland good field position from the line-out. But they ruin their chance by giving away another penalty for not staying on their feet and France clear impressively.

23 mins: The French loosies are guilty of "garder le ballon" according to Chris White, who is making a bit of a name for himself. Fortunately, Ireland aren't in range and Ronan O'Gara can only aim at the corner.

20 mins: PENALTY France 9-0 Ireland
France are enjoying a period of pressure and the crowd are getting behind them. Successive probes around the fringes make them good ground and they incur another penalty. Ronan O'Gara gets a right old telling off from Chris White for swearing. French scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde keeps his side moving forwards with another penalty.

19 mins: Referee Chris White likes to inject his smatterings of French - "lachez, lachez, let go" or "Pas de ballon". Good stuff.

17 mins: PENALTY France 6-0 Ireland
French winger Cedric Heymans pounces on a loose ball and hares up the left flank. The ball is spread right and Clement Poitrenaud dives for the corner, reaching out with his right hand to touch the ball down. Chris White asks the video ref who says Poitrenaud's legs were in touch. But Ireland were offside earlier in the move and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde strokes another three points over.

13 mins: Ireland win good ball from the re-start and the forwards punch their way up the middle in a succession of little darts. But Ireland are foiled by referee Chris White, who gets in the way of Andrew Trimble and is winded a bit. Ireland get a scrum for their efforts but when they try to work the ball, they're guilty of crossing and the scrum goes to France.

12 mins: Shane Horgan marshals the ball dead in his own in-goal area after a monster boot from French centre Damien Traille.

10 mins: Ireland win their first penalty as Paul O'Connell is dragged down in the line-out by Serge Betsen. Ronan O'Gara steps up but he miscues his kick and Irish fans let out a collective groan.

8 mins: The Irish pack muscle their way towards the French 22 and Ronan O'Gara drops back into drop-goal position. The ball comes back but he's under pressure so he hoists it high and Ireland regain the ball. But the move breaks down, France win a line-out and finally clear their lines after some super-slow ball.

6 mins: PENALTY France 3-0 Ireland
Ireland pile over the ball as France build a promising attack and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde slots the first points.

4 mins: It's a cagey opening with some aerial tennis from both sides. Each run or hit is greeted with "oohs" and "aahs" from the fired-up crowd.

2 mins: French icon Sebastien Chabal steals a good line-out for France but it has to be taken again.

1 min: The first line-out from France is not straight and referee Chris White calls an Ireland scrum in midfield. Ronan O'Gara lofts it high down the pitch but Clement Poitrenaud cleans up for France.

2001: Centre Damien Traille kicks off for France. Ireland gather and rifle the ball back to Ronan O'Gara who fires a big clearance.

1959: "Ireland's Call" is first and rings out loud and clear from the hordes of green-shirted Irish fans in the ground. Jerry Flannery and Eoin Reddan look to be in tears. "La Marseillaise" follows at a brisk pace and builds into its rousing crescendo.

1956: Here come the teams, led by Brian O'Driscoll and Raphael Ibanez. What huge pressure on these respective 15s. They sprint to their respective halves and both muster for a cuddle before lining up for the anthems.

"It feels like a home game for Ireland. Their fans appear to have commandeered most of the lower tier at both ends of the ground, and their cheers as the team line-ups were read out were far louder than the French, who reserved a specail "hoooooouuuuuu" for Chabal! The Irish players can only be lifted by the roar that will greet their entrance any minute now."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade de France.

1945: The stezza at the Stade de France belts out "Bright Side of the Road" by Van Morrison before lapsing into some Irish fiddle music. Certainly making Brian and the boys feel at home. How comfy they'll feel in a short while is anyone's guess.
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade de France.

According to JBD from Belfast via text, "biffo" (see below) means something a bit rude about some nice gentlemen from Offaly. I'll stick with my version.

1940: This one's got the rugby world divided. Here's just two examples:

"France are 7-1 on, Ireland are playing pish poor yet I can't help but feel Bayonne, Croker and L'Equipe will combine to give Ireland a famous victory. What I wouldn't give to see ROG knock over a penalty with the last kick of the game to send the Frenchies home!"
Billymcvilla on 606

"France 42 Ireland 15. Good luck Ireland I'll be rooting for you all the way but this has to be 80 minutes of intense and controlled rugby and let's see those world class backs moving."
Rugby Shrink on 606

1930: Both teams are on the pitch warming up amid a building atmosphere at the Stade de France. Noise levels are already very impressive for what could be a very tasty encounter. Expect plenty of renditions of "Allez Les Bleus", lots of "Ireland, Ireland" and lashings of biffo. Can't wait.

1900: Bernard Lapasset, the president of the French Rugby Federation, has described this match as "the most important in France's professional rugby history". No pressure then.

Defeat tonight, and the French would become the first hosts in history to be eliminated from their own World Cup before the knock-out stages...unless Namibia beat Argentina tomorrow, and Ireland beat the Pumas in their final pool clash next Sunday. As France captain Raphael Ibanez puts it: "Defeat is unthinkable".
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade France.

1845: The French players have been out on the pitch surveying the scene, several of them with huge headphones on and their Ipods on the go. The big news is that Sebastien Chabal, who on Thursday playfully suggested he might pop to the barbers before this one, appears to have decided the "caveman" image might not be the same without that famous "barbe" and shaggy hair (currently in a neat pony-tail).
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade France.

1830: It may a little early but the Irish supporters milling around outside the Stade de France do not seem in the party mood for this one. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that a pre-match pint costs seven euros. Or maybe they've converged on Paris in hope rather than expectation of victory tonight. They've only won once (in 2000) in the French capital in the last 35 years, after all.
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Stade France.


SEE ALSO
Geordan Murphy Q&A
20 Sep 07 |  Irish
Reddan given shock Irish call-up
17 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
France 87-10 Namibia
16 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 14-10 Georgia
15 Sep 07 |  Irish
Ireland 32-17 Namibia
09 Sep 07 |  Irish
Laporte defiant after shock loss
08 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
France 12-17 Argentina
07 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
France RWC team guide
04 Sep 07 |  Team guides
Ireland RWC team guide
04 Sep 07 |  Team guides


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