Sunday Feb 4, 2018

Johnny Sexton's last minute heroics hailed as 'inspirational' by Joe Schmidt

Johnny Sexton's last minute heroics hailed as 'inspirational' by Joe Schmidt
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Ireland needed extra time and a masterful performance from their world class fly half to get their 2018 Six Nations campaign off to a winning start. Sexton accounted for all of Ireland’s points, none more crucial than his match-winning drop goal.

It was a rain-soaked and injury-riddled evening at the Stade de France. Perhaps it was the damp conditions or the fact that this was the first match for each team, but it was a game that – up until the end – couldn’t quite seem to find a rhythm.

This style seemed to suit Ireland just fine, as they appeared more than content to ride Sexton’s boot. However, France were never truly out of the match and in the second half, disaster struck for Ireland starting with a missed Sexton penalty.

France turned the tables in the 72nd minute as Teddy Thomas sprinted 60 meters for the only try of the match. Adding the conversion, France took the lead 13-12 and appeared to be headed for an opening round victory. 

The French were then awarded yet another penalty with only a few minutes to spare, but missed the ensuing kick. What had been a rather boring match was quickly transformed into a exciting spectacle that went down to the wire and beyond.

There was still plenty of time for Ireland to go to work and that’s precisly what they did, driving up the field one meter at a time, starting way back at the 22-meter restart. 

Ireland spent an astounding 41 phases, and went into extra time trying to crack the stiff French resistance and only broke it open after a spledid cross-kick from Sexton to Keith Earls.

This proved to be the much-needed spark that Ireland needed, and they maintained strong discipline to see that Sexton eventually got his chance. 

He didn’t disappoint and slotted a brilliant 45-metre drop goal for the win. 

“To be honest, I went back to many years ago when we played Treviso away and I was in that exact same position, almost identical situation, and I just flashed back to that,” Sexton said post match.

“I had a pop. The lads’ legs were out and I don’t think we could have gone another couple of phases so just got there in the end.

“I was just happy to get another chance to get the victory for the boys. We’ve worked so hard for the last two weeks… All that would have crumbled today if we had lost. It’s great to be in the position that we are now after getting an away win.”

After those unbelievable few minutes of play at the death, Ireland left France with a 15-13 victory. 

Post match press conference with captain Rory Best and coach Joe Schmidt:

Credit: FF Rugby/Irish Rugby TV

20 Comments

  •  reality
    reality

    Henderson. The guy is being sold short. He had a fantastic match. First the catch, then he got over the gainline two phases before Sexton's drop, giving him the necessary time to execute.

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    Imagine if Ireland had the imagination to start Zebo, Earls and Larmour as the back three? Absolute fire! They needed a bit of a spark Neither team spend much time in the other's 22. If you weren't Irish or French, or an absolute tactics nerds, I can see this would have been a fairly boring encounter.....

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    are there any clips available that start with the actual restart - the 22 dropout- that henshaw took in the air? Unfortunately, we just see it when he catches - so the complete move stats with the imagination..... this first kick too, from the Irish 22, was cheeky, excellent and v v accurate by sexton.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Definitely nothing to be ashamed of!! That final display from the Irish half leading into the French half and the drop goal was a testament to the French defence! 41 phases I've heard, and no one in the entire French team gave the game away in those phases!! It's been hailed as a heroic Irish effort and ultimately history is written by the victors, however defence that solid is something that the French lads should quietly congratulate themselves on. I think even Sexton said he could feel a mistake from his side was coming.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I think you've summed it up well, everyone wants to do the right thing, or no one wants to do the wrong thing, all in regard of player welfare.. I'd say Dupont probably held his head in response to his knee pain...

    Reply
  •  andinov
    andinov

    Few things about HIAs; I don't know what the HIA at the stadium involves but but there is no way to definitively out rule a significant head injury at the stadium. Knowing that, you can't even begin to out rule a HI from the sideline while the player is on the pitch. Following the tackle there is a 17 second pause where Dupont holds his head and does not move. Nigel Owens at this point has to call for a HIA. Correct call. Any good doctor would say, if there is even a possibility of a head injury then get him off the pitch. The doctors responsibility is to the welfare of the player, not to the match. Correct call. There are 2 possible candidates to blame here. 1) Dupont knowing that he's injured his knee and it'll result in a difficult substitute decision has faked a head injury. I do not believe this is what has happened. 2) There is a problem with the rules of the game. Why does this substitute rule only apply to HI. Either make the rule that all injuries can bring a player back on or no injuries can.

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Agreed, nothing to be ashamed of for those young french players who almost won VS the 3d nation. But now France will fall to the 10th place of the world ranking... I like the Scots but I kinda hope the french will crush them... I don't think Owen is that "anti french". Anyway, there are worse cases than his.

    Reply

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  • I didn't see the Engand vs Italy game but from the 2 other games I had the feeling that : WALES-SCOTLAND : losing their classical players helped the Welsh gaining speed (apart from Halfpenny who, despite his great game, is way slower than Liam Williams) while Scotland really has lost a lot with their missing players. FRANCE-IRELAND : I agree that this is the first game of the tournament, I also agree that the game was really poor in spectacle. But France is now 9th at World Rugby ranking, and Ireland 3rd, and we all know the difference between those 2 ranks. To be honest I think against a country with a gameplay as hard to oppose to as Ireland's and knowing they had a brand new staff They didn't do this bad, being able to almost win (even if defending the whole game). Also, what is Nigel's problem with the French ? I'm not saying he made them lose the game. Clearly not. But this has been years now that I see a difference in his referring when France is on the pitch... Has anyone else noticed this ?

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Both teams had a lot of pressure. They both needed to win. France because it was their first game with the new staff and everybody was so impatient to see them win again. Ireland because their ambition is the grand slam. Add the rain, and it gives a dull tight game. Never liked Vahaamina, never will. He gives Ireland the win IMO. France defense was a good surprise. They had two weeks to build something. They only managed to do that but did it well. Let's hope with Picamoles back meaner than ever they 'll go forward again. Dunno what to think of Beauxis' come back. He can be brilliant and then so bad... Anyway, not many options left at that point. As staded, there is a whole team of injured french players. It's just unbelievable. Regarding the HIA issue, when I first read about it I thought "oh no, not again" because last year's controversy was embarrassing enough. But then I read this article saying that the french management or players had nothing to do with the decision. I think it was a cautious call in good faith. Line judge Paul Williams was the one who said "I think Dupont bumped his head". https://www.lequipe.fr/Rugby/Actualites/Bleus-le-quatrieme-arbitre-explique-la-sortie-de-dupont-sur-commotion/873084 Sexton was huge as always. Even a bit more. France badly need a Sexton of their own.

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    well I missed the first half so apparently I got lucky....anyways here's my 2 cents! -straight moments of magic from Thomas and Sexton. A lot of French fans criticize Thomas for his defense, but he is one of those rare wingers capable of creating something out of absolutely nothing. This try reminded me of the one he scored vs Australia in 2014. Totally individual brillance. As for Sexton, I still cant believe he managed that crossfield kick / then drop from 45 m combo. Just unbelievable. - The constant talking/appealing to the ref from Irish players really irked me. Murray has no business asking for a TMO replay. Only the captain!! Or we will have refs surrounded by disrespectful players like in football pretty soon. - France really has bad karma. Losing Dupont and Jalibert, young and promising key players right at the start of the tournament, is disheartening. -and on a final note: the 6 nations remains such an incredible tournament!

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    don't forget the original...esp the cookie monster and do wait for Kermit..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4FU9SvW-Bk Now THAT's commentary (TV commentators can sound so boring for big moments, this guy in the clip is an Irish radio commentator)

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Colombes basically summed it up with his opening sentence. Excuses time: It was the first game of the competition for these two teams. Both teams had tough opposition, this was more likely to be a real trudgy style match than something fast and flowing. The weather was atrocious by all accounts. I did read a damning article about the Scotland Wales game, which really criticized everything about Scotland's set up, coaching et al. It did make a remark about the type of competition which is quite fitting and how autumn and summer internationals are more about bragging rights than anything else, so will be more likely to be free flowing and exciting, but 6 nations is going to be more about the deeper darker slower sort of game where it's about making inches rather than metres...

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Rather to spread rumors, i politely invite you to read this article. It sounds more a chaotic communication than a conspiracy theory. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/feb/04/six-nations-review-head-injury-assessment-protocol-france-ireland Btw, there will be review.

    Reply
  •  denis1
    denis1

    Okay, I am foreign and Rugby League fan. This game was so poor to be unbelievable. Did people pay to see this?

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    A 75 minutes rainy and grey show which was saved 2 magic moments of Thomas and Sexton. Even if the conclusion is cruel, the result is rather fair regarding ireland possession and control. Without panache, they respected their Up-and-under gameplan vs a penalised and inexperienced french side. The result is bad for France, but the real bad news are the serious injuries of jalibert and dupont. There is now a whole french selection on hospital beds. PS: regarding the hia "controversy", the real debate is why limit the "10 minutes sub" to blood and commotion injuries? On Dupont accident, Owens clearly saw it was a knee injury but seemed to indicate "hia" to the independent medic. I've already this tolerance in premiership and top14 for last minutes serious injuries. New rule to come? maybe.

    Reply
  •  filthypete
    filthypete

    Morning. In regards the second one i believe it was. French player. Maybe 1st centre appraoched referee and kept tapping his head indicating HIA. I hope its innocent but it sure as feck doesnt look it. There's dark arts and there's outright wrong.

    Reply
  •  filthypete
    filthypete

    Well played

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    Certainly a disgrace, but there's no need for a head-jerk reaction

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Personally I was bored out of my mind until that French try, then everyone seemed to pull out all the stops all round. France reduced their consistent penalties which was good for them and their defence was brilliant, even in the final phases of play I couldn't believe that 1) Ireland hadn't coughed up the ball or given away a penalty in 40 odd phases and that 2) France had defended solidly and hadn't given away a penalty in 40 odd phases... Regarding the HIA's I don't really know what to say. No one wants to take the responsibility (and therefore the blame). Nigel Owens loudly stating it's out of his hands, but at the same time the way he spoke to the doctor(?) on the sidelines seemed to almost out the doc in a position to just go along with 'yeh HIA'... I understand Owens wanted a clear and definitive answer, but his persistent asking probably put the guy in a position where he couldn't say no.. One thing I don't get however is the questioning of the French regarding these HIA's? The match doctor is supposed to be independent right? So he makes the call based on his guidelines, not on the French managements suggestions or gripes? Am I right? Are we suggesting the management have some sort of intervention here or have they coached players to claim dizzyness etc in the event of an injury?

    Reply
  •  filthypete
    filthypete

    Great win. Not mentioned in the article but doesnt it seem that the French attitude to HIA is questionable at best? World Rugby brings this in and rightly so but they seem to be taking the piss out of it at highest levels. If so its a disgrace and much more important than the win, from an Irish man.

    Reply

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Johnny Sexton's last minute heroics hailed as 'inspirational' by Joe Schmidt | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos