French fightback denies Ireland rare triumph

FRANCE (17) vs IRELAND (17)

IRELAND captain Paul O’Connell rued a second-half slip-up as the visitors allowed France to fight back and deny them a race Six Nations victory in Paris. Two tries from winger Tommy Bowe put the Irish 17-6 up at the interval and within touching distance of their first win on French soil since 2000.

But Wesley Fofana touched down as the World Cup finalists pulled level yet failed to keep alive their chances of achieving the Grand Slam.

A draw effectively ended Ireland’s championships hopes and O’Connell said: “It’s disappointing for us. We played good rugby in the first half, we didn’t match it in the second. We had a great opportunity to win and we didn’t take it. It’s frustrating, you don’t get many chances to win here.”

Bowe intercepted a pass by centre Aurelien Rougerie to open the scoring after 13 minutes, and widened the gap before half-time, darting onto his own chip to score a solo try.

Fofana gave France a foothold soon after the break when he sprinted diagonally across the pitch to touch down in the corner. Fly-half Morgan Parra missed the conversion but atoned and drew level with a penalty.