06/04/0. Once again Irish Grand Slam hopes were dashed in La Roche sur Yon when the Irish A side went down 30-20 last night. In 1998 The Under 21s suffered their only defeat at this venue.
The Irish got off to the worst possible start, were 17-3 down after 18 minutes. They had lost Victor Costello who went off injured after 10 minutes to be replaced by Johnny O’Connor with Tony McWhirter switching to number 8
.Romain Teulet (Castres) opened the scoring with a 4th minute penalty. The situation worsened when centre Yannick Jauzion (Colomiers) then crossed for their first try following a quick tap penalty. Barry Everitt then kicked a penalty but Teulet was on the mark again when lock David Couzinat was driven over close to the posts.
However Ireland hung in there and enjoyed a period of domination, three further penalties from Everitt reducing the deficit to 17-12. Teulet posted another penalty, Everitt responded in kind but the London Irish outhalf missed with two further chances, the second of which could reasonably have been a penalty try when Paddy Wallace was obstructed by a French player as the Irish attacked with a two-on-one overlap inside the French 22.
A marvelous individual try from wing Pepito Elhorga (Agen) in the 67th minute effectively sealed the outcome. He received possession on his own 10 metre line, chipped over Anthony Horgan’s head, then twice controlling the ball with his feet as he hacked over the line and pounced. Teulet’s conversion and a further penalty pushed the French 15 points (30-15) clear and two minutes into injury time Mike Mullins crossed for a consolation but well deserved try
Ireland.: P Wallace (Ulster); G D’Arcy (Leinster), M Mullins (Munster), J Holland (Munster), A Horgan (Munster); B Everitt (London Irish), N Doak (Ulster); R Corrigan (Leinster, capt), F Sheahan (Munster), S Best (Ulster); L Cullen (Leinster), R Casey (Leinster); T McWhirter (Ulster), V Costello (Leinster), A Ward (Ulster). Replacements: J O’Connor (Connacht) for Costello (10 mins); B O’Meara (Leinster) for Doak (55); J Bishop (London Irish) for D’Arcy (57); M Horan (Munster) for Best (63); M O’Driscoll (Munster) for Cullen (70); J Staunton (Munster) for Everitt (70).
France. R Teulet, P Elhorga, L Valbon, Y Jauzion, G Moro; A Piclier , A Albouy; A Tolofua, S Bruno, A Galasso; J Thion, D Couzinet; B Goutta, E Vermeulen (capt), S Chabal. Replacements: A Gaubert, Y Lacrouts, J Dieudi, L Loustau , J-B Elissalde, R Chanal.