23 May, 12:21
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
FRANCE U-20s 20 IRELAND U-20s 15, Stade de la Chevaliere, Mazamet
Scorers: France: Try: Mathieu Lamoulie; Pens: Gilles Bosch 5
Ireland: Pens: James McKinney 4, Brian Kingston
Allen Clarke's Irish side, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, tried everything to batter down a beefy French defence, but some poor decisions and a lack of that crucial final pass saw the visitors go without a try.
20-15 down, they lay siege to the French line in the final quarter but the home side, with their scrum growing in stature, rallied to see out a nail-biting win.
Full-back Andrew Conway got closest to crossing the French whitewash when he went on the outside and blazed a trail down the left touchline, but the support was slow in getting to him and France won a relieving penalty.
Ireland were unchanged from last weekend's opening 39-0 win over Italy and after a sticky early patch, a pinpoint kick from winger Simon Zebo forced France to concede a lineout, deep in their half.
Hooker Niall Annett, who threw well all night, found his target in the lineout and following a ruck infringement from France number 2 Mickaël Ivaldi, Irish out-half James McKinney landed the penalty from the left for a seventh minute lead.
Patrick Butler, Ben Marshall and team captain Rhys Ruddock got through some good early work as the French tried to hit back.
All-action flanker Dominic Ryan was as busy as ever, too busy on occasions and an infringement from the Leinster man allowed Bosch level the game - with his penalty effort flicking in off the right post.
Ryan floored Mathieu Lamoulie with a textbook tackle as France tried to force the issue close to the Irish 22. Nonetheless, a botched drop goal from Bosch was quickly followed by a French try from deep.
On 20 minutes, scrum half John Cooney launched a box kick but the chase was poor from his team-mates and the French seized their chance with Julien Fritz and Clément Lagain instigating a swift counter attack that ended with Lamoulie scoring in the right corner.
It was a sucker-punch try as Ireland had settled well. After Bosch's missed conversion, Clarke's youngsters built again and when France were penalised at the breakdown in front of their posts, McKinney fired over his second penalty.
The multi-talented Irish backs were playing themselves into the game, with some strong running from Darren Hudson, Zebo and Nevin Spence bringing play into the hosts' 22.
Props Bryan Cagney and Jack O'Connell also looked to have the measure of their men at scrum time. From a solid set piece and a well-controlled ruck, Ireland drew another penalty which McKinney converted for a 9-8 lead.
It got better for the Irish as McKinney's fourth successful kick, just short of half-time, sent his side in at the break with a 12-8 advantage.
Frustratingly for Clarke and his management team, Ireland endured a flat third quarter during which Bosch booted France ahead at 17-12.
The French upped their game in a number of areas, most importantly in the scrum and open play, while their maul increasingly became a threat.
As the second half got underway, Ireland took the wrong option in trying to run the ball out of their 22, allowing Bosch an early look at the posts and the Perpignan prospect made no mistake.
McKinney took a heavy knock and made way for Brian Kingston who was off target with a long range penalty just seconds after being introduced.
There were knock-ons and poor decision-making by both sides, but France seemed to have the bounce of the ball in their favour and two more successful penalties, the second after a hugely powerful scrum, left Ireland trailing by five points.
A raid through the middle from centre Spence got Ireland firing again on the hour mark and an excellent penalty from the right from Kingston gave plenty of encouragement.
France turned the screw again up front though, and a Bosch penalty in the 64th minute proved to be the match-winning score.
Ireland continued to look dangerous with ball in hand, but they were kept at arm's length by the hosts for most of the closing minutes.
A little more construction and composure was necessary as the Irish put width on the ball in an attempt to stretch the French defensive wall.
But fired-up France, managed by Philippe Sella, held firm on the two or three occasions that their line was seriously threatened, with a scrum won against the head ending Ireland's comeback chances.
Clarke and his players must regroup now before travelling to Kingsholm on Friday, February 26 to challenge Championship favourites England.
FRANCE U-20: Julien Fritz; Jérémy Sinzelle, Mathieu Lamoulie, Romain Barthélémy, Clément Lagain; Gilles Bosch, Alexi Bales; Benjamin Geledan, Mickaël Ivaldi, Gwendal Lamache, Georges Souvent, Jean Sousa, Jocelyn Grange, Tanguy Molcard (capt), Antoine Erbani.
Replacements: Eddy Ben Arous, Mathieu Giudicelli, Mickaël Blandin, Kevin Gourdon, Guillaume Lafforgue, Alexandre Hubert, Brice Dulin.
IRELAND U-20: Andrew Conway; Darren Hudson, Brendan Macken, Nevin Spence, Simon Zebo; James McKinney, John Cooney; Bryan Cagney, Niall Annett, Jack O'Connell, David O'Callaghan, Ben Marshall, Rhys Ruddock (capt), Dominic Ryan, Patrick Butler.
Replacements: David Doyle, Stewart Maguire, Brian Hayes, Robin O'Sullivan, Michael Heaney, Brian Kingston, Eoin Griffin.
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
|France U20s Score Card|
|Ireland U20s Score Card|