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Heaslip Helps Ireland Deliver The Goods

Heaslip Helps Ireland Deliver The Goods

Jamie Heaslip conveyed the mood of the entire Ireland squad when he accepted the man-of-the-match award after Saturday’s thrill-a-minute RBS 6 Nations clash with France. “All of us are delighted,” he beamed.

At a chilly Croke Park, Jamie Heaslip delivered a timely reminder of just why he is rated as one of the top number 8s in northern Hemisphere rugby.

The Leinster back rower scored a breathtaking first half try and came up with a series of big plays in defence and attack, none more so than when he won the late penalty which effectively got Ireland over the finish line. 

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He ran his legs into the ground, raising his game to new heights and Ireland coach Declan Kidney must be the envy of his Six Nations counterparts in that he has two number 8s of the quality of Heaslip and Munster’s Denis Leamy at his disposal.

This victory meant a lot to Heaslip and you got the sense that he was accepting the man-of-the-match gong very much on the team’s behalf.

“I think it’s the first time we’ve won in eight meetings with France and it’s great that we beat them here, especially having come so close last year and what happened at Croke Park in 2007. All of us are delighted,” he said.

“At 20-10 up, I thought it was going to be more. Fair play to France, they just caught us on the hop and maybe had the potential to do what they did two years ago.

“But we bounced back, got down in their half and worked hard and got a try out of it.”

Heaslip’s scorching try, his second in his last four Test matches, saw him go on a rampaging run which finished with him crashing past pace men Clement Poitrenaud and Julien Malzieu.

“I think it was Tommy (Bowe) made a savage break up the side and then a nice, little reverse pass from Paulie (Paul O’Connell).

“Rog (Ronan O’Gara) put me in a hole and away we went. It was just brilliant to get over.”

Heaslip and company had been bracing themselves for a physical tussle with the French and that is exactly what they got.

With it also being the players’ first international experience since last November, the sheer pace of the game left them gasping at time. Ireland, with their defence in the closing stages simply magnificent, looked the fitter at the finish.

“We knew it was just going to be a bash really. That first half was up there, I was absolutely shattered after the first half.

“It was very physical and everything we said it was going to be.

“We knew it was going to come down to that 10-15 minute period at the end where people are starting to drop on their feet.

“We held out and that defence at the end summed it up. We did a good job overall,” he surmised.

The focus will switch to Rome next weekend for what is sure to be another bruising encounter with Italy, who were 36-11 losers to England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Keeping his and his team-mates’ feet firmly on the ground, Heaslip added: “This result puts us on a good footing going forward but we can’t get carried away. Italy are next up and they’re not going to stand down.

“They’ve got some unbelievable players, especially their captain (Sergio Parisse). We’ll enjoy the win, take our rest and get ready for next Sunday.”