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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 10:40 GMT
France fear 'excellent' Ireland
France's Clement Poitrenaud takes a hit from Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll
France lost to Ireland in March
France insist they will go into their clash with Ireland as underdogs after their quarter-final opponents' narrow defeat by Australia.

French team manager Jo Maso, coach Bernard Laporte and their players were impressed by Ireland's display in the 17-16 loss in Melbourne on Saturday.

"They were better than us in the Six Nations. They are the favourites and we are the underdogs," said Maso.

"But that won't stop us from taking the game to them."

Maso added: "They gave nothing away [against Australia]. They played an excellent game and in particular Brian O'Driscoll.

"Even before the game against the Wallabies, we knew that they were good going forward, good in defence, able to move the ball around and have an excellent kicking game.

This result proves that apart from England, who are a class above everyone else, it is a very open competition
France coach Bernard Laporte

"We will have to be at our best in defence and in winning the ball both at set-pieces and in the loose."

Ireland won their last match against France, edging them out 15-12 in a rain-hit Six Nations game in Dublin in March.

Laporte believes the Irish could pay the price for their exertions against Australia and Argentina when they face his side in Melbourne next Sunday, but he is still wary.

"The Irish played a great game. Their forwards completely destabilised the Australians, being first to the ball, and their tactical kicking was first-class," said Laporte.

"The Wallabies were fortunate to get away with a win and no-one, myself included, would have bet on such a close result.

"Once again this result proves that apart from England, who are a class above everyone else, it is a very open competition."

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