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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

France withstand Ireland comeback to win first of two match series

France withstand Ireland comeback to win first of two match series

France are upbeat following their 19-12 win over Ireland on Saturday in what was another Rugby World Cup warm-up match. Ireland fielded a stronger side than the one that played against Scotland a week before, but were without Brian O'Driscoll.

France looked in control of the game with a 13-3 halftime lead, but Ireland came back with a few penalties later in the game. Vincent Clerc scored his eighth try against Ireland, moving him into third place on France's all time tryscorers list, with 25 in total.

Coach Mark Lievremont said that they still have plenty of room to improve ahead of the world cup. "We never gave up hope of making progress! Of course there was hope because we have a lot of quality players. This first match, given that it is always difficult to begin a new season and to find your rhythm, has in any case given us that hope.

"Even if these matches have nothing at stake, they are still test matches. When one sees the intensity, the hard tackling on both sides, they are anything but friendly matches. Everyone is hungry to mark his territory, to raise their morale, to reassure themselves, and to make progress. In terms of all those things it was a good match," he added.

Ireland meanwhile are boosted by the return of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon Darcy for the next match between the two sides, in Dublin this coming weekend. O'Driscoll has recovered from a neck injury, while Darcy returns after ankle surgery. Stephen Ferris, who had a lengthy lay-off following knee surgery, will play off the bench.

"Although I haven't been able to do a huge amount of contact during this pre-season, I've put myself in a position to make sure I'm doing everything up to that contact point," said O'Driscoll.

"I've been working on things like footwork and being in the right place at ruck time. I'd like to be up to speed after three games, but I will feel a lot better after playing this weekend."

How did you rate the performances of the two sides respectively?

Time: 08:38

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