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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 15:18 GMT
France 43-31 Ireland
Aurelien Rougerie scored France's opening try in the third minute
France: (29) 43
Tries: Rougerie, Magne, Marty 2, Heymans 2
Cons: Elissalde 5
Pens: Elissalde
Ireland: (3) 31
Tries: O'Gara, D'Arcy, O'Callaghan, Trimble
Cons: O'Gara 4
Pens: O'Gara
France's first-half blitz proved decisive in Saturday's Six Nations clash at the Stade de France, despite Ireland's brave second-half fightback.

Tries by Aurelien Rougerie, Olivier Magne, David Marty and Cedric Heymans helped France lead 29-3 at half-time.

Further Heymans and Marty tries then extended France's advantage to 43-3.

Ronan O'Gara, Gordon D'Arcy and Donncha O'Callaghan and Andrew Trimble scored Irish tries as France lost their way but the hosts did enough to hold on.

Ireland wasted try-scoring chances of their own in the crucial first half when they had plenty of possession.

In contrast, the French clinically punished glaring Irish errors which meant that the game was effectively over by the 18th minute.

Bowe's slip in midfield put the Irish defence on the backfoot in the third minute and Rougerie touched down in the corner after beating Geordan Murphy on the outside.

We tried to play all the rugby out there. France were picking up the scraps
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan
Ireland responded with pressure of their own near the French line but a decision to take a tap penalty instead of three likely points rebounded disastrously as the home side broke away to score their second try.

Heymans' quickly taken 22 drop-out found acres of space on the left and with Denis Leamy and Murphy getting in each other's way, Frederic Michalak won possession and supplied the scoring pass to Magne.

After missing his earlier conversion, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde added the conversion to extend the lead to 12-0.

O'Gara then missed a penalty chance to open Ireland's account and the fly-half gifted France their third try in the 18th minute when his attempted clearance was charged down by David Marty who ran on to notch the score.

The Irish attempted to rally and D'Arcy crossed the French line a minute later but the score was correctly ruled out for a knock on by the Leinster centre.

Ireland played well in the last 30 minutes; we played well for 50 minutes with a lot of intensity and agility
Bernard Laporte
France coach
O'Gara and Elissalde kicked penalties at either end before Irish first-half horror show was completed in the 35th minute when Murphy's speculative looping pass was intercepted by Heymans who ran in unopposed to score France's fourth try.

It scarcely seemed possible that it could get worse for the Irish but it did as first Heymans and Marty ran in further French tries in the seven minutes after half-time with another awful O'Gara kick gifting the sixth touchdown.

Irish pressure yielded a try for O'Gara in the 57th minute but it only cut the French lead to 43-10 as the fly-half added the extras.

The introduction of several replacements seemed to cause a loss of French cohesion and D'Arcy ran in a second Irish try three minutes later with O'Gara slotting the conversion.

Ireland's revival continued when replacement Donncha O'Callaghan notched their third try in the 66th minute and the French lead was cut to 43-31.

Andrew Trimble touched down with 11 minutes remaining with O'Gara adding both conversions.

The Irish had further late chances but the nervous French held on to claim the win.

France: Dominici; Rougerie, Fritz, Marty, Heymans; Michalak, Elissalde; Milloud, Ibanez, De Villiers; Pelous, Thion; Nyanga, Magne, Bonnaire.
Replacements: Boyet for Michalak (69), Yachvili for Elissalde (59), Marconnet for Milloud (59), Bruno for Ibanez (47), Nallet for Nyanga (71), Martin for Magne (59).
Not Used: Valbon.

Ireland: Murphy; Horgan, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Bowe; O'Gara, Stringer; Corrigan, Flannery, Hayes; O'Kelly, O'Connell; Easterby, Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Reddan for O'Driscoll (77), Trimble for Bowe (62), S Best for Corrigan (51), O'Callaghan for O'Kelly (51).
Not Used: R Best, O'Connor, Humphreys.

Att: 80,000

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).

Highlights: France 43-31 Ireland

Interview: Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan

Interview: France coach Bernard Laporte

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11 Feb 06 |  Photo Galleries
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