Match Centre: Six Nations: France 17-38 Ireland

Peter O'Mahony's yellow card did not prove costly for Ireland
Peter O'Mahony's yellow card did not prove costly for Ireland

France 17-38 Ireland, Orange Velodrome

Ireland kick-started their Six Nations campaign with a 38-17 bonus point victory over France in the opening round at Orange Velodrome on Friday.

This was the first game for Ireland since the retirement of Johnny Sexton and they started off well having secured their first away win over France since 2018. For France, Paul Willemse was sent off around the half hour mark for receiving his second yellow card and his absence proved costly as they were unable to match the strength of Andy Farrell's men.

Ireland started the proceedings in an attacking fashion as Jack Crowley kicked a penalty to the corner after the Les Bleus infringed at offside but the second time around they settled for a penalty kick to get the first points on board in the 7th minute.

The hosts were down to 14 players temporarily as Willemse was sent to sin-bin for making in contact with the head of Andrew Porter and to their relief the Bunker Review System did not upgrade the card. Nevertheless, Ireland made use of their numerical advantage with Bundee Aki exhibiting quick speed and sent an offload for Jamison Gibson-Park to touchdown.

Crowley's conversion meant Ireland extended their lead to 0-10 before Willemse returned back from the sin-bin in an eventful opening quarter of the tournament. A scrum penalty conceded by Ireland allowed France to open their account in the 27th minute and Thomas Ramos made no mistake.

However, Ireland got their second try around the half hour mark with this time Crowley showed deft hands in setting up Tadhg Beirne over the line and the fly-half also followed with the conversion making it 3-17. France's chances were dealt a major blow in the 32nd minute as Willemse received his second yellow card for another high hit and was sent-off leaving the hosts with a player short for the remainder of the game.

Despite being down on numbers, France made some amends with Jalibert setting up Damian Penaud to complete his 36th try for his country and Ramos' conversion meant the teams completed the opening half with a 10-17 scoreline.

It took Ireland just six minutes into the second half to get off the block as Beirne found Cavin Nash to score his Six Nations debut but that was after Ramos missed a penalty chance. Crowley once again was spot on with the conversion taking the score to 10-24.

The 53rd minute saw Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony sent to sin-bin for collapsing a maul and with the help of the TMO, Paul Gabrillagues was awarded the try and Ramos kicked the conversion to make it 17-24. With everything to play for in the final quarter, Ireland claimed the bonus point as Dan Sheehan is over from the maul and Crowley kicked the extras to make it 17-31.

Any chance of a comeback for France was put off as Ireland got their fifth try in the closing stage as replacement hooker Ronan Kelleher crashed to complete a 21 point victory for Ireland.

What's Next:

France will be heading to Murrayfield for an away game against Scotland on 10th February while Ireland will host Italy in the second round at Aviva Stadium on 11th February.

Points Table:

Position Team Played Won Lost Points
1 Ireland 1 1 0 5
2 France 1 0 1 0
- England 0 0 0 0
- Italy 0 0 0 0
- Scotland 0 0 0 0
- Wales 0 0 0 0

Team line up:

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Yoram Moefana, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 3 Uini Atonio, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 5 Paul Willemse, 6 François Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon, 8 Grégory Alldritt (c)

Reserves: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Posolo Tuilagi, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Nolann Le Garrec, 23 Louis Bielle-Biarrey

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park; 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Dan Sheehan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Joe McCarthy, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Caelan Doris

Reserves: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 James Ryan, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Jack Conan, 22 Conor Murray, 23 Ciaran Frawley.