Six Nations: Ireland's 'courage and character' a bonus point from France defeat – Farrell

By Sports Desk February 12, 2022

Andy Farrell lamented the result but not the performance after his Ireland team just failed in a valiant comeback effort against France in the Six Nations.

Ireland, shorn of the injured Johnny Sexton, found themselves behind after just 67 seconds in Paris on Saturday, and at one point early in the second half they were 22-7 down.

Yet Josh van der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park led an Ireland fightback and, despite Cyril Baille's try, the visitors were within three points of France when Joey Carbery kicked a penalty heading into the closing stages.

It was not to be for Ireland, though, as the excellent Melvyn Jaminet converted a France penalty after having a try ruled out.

France have now won their past three Tests against Ireland, this after winning just one of the previous nine clashes between the sides (D2 L6), but Farrell was delighted with the spirit his team showed.

"We came here to win, came here to perform, but there's another class side in France that's going to have a big say in that, and they certainly did from the start – 10 points down after six minutes certainly wasn't in the script," he told ITV Sport.

"Getting to a stage early on in the second half when it was 22-7 just says everything about our side really, the character, the guts, the fitness levels and the want to go and play and get ourselves back in the game; I couldn't be more proud.

"It shows what we're about, that we've got the courage to go put our game out there when we're under pressure. To get in front and to make sure that we start well is something we need to look at.

"The forward lads going for as long as they did, digging in, all in all it comes down to one hell of a Test match. We didn't get the points here but the courage and the character was the bonus point here."

Saturday's result was the 15th time a Six Nations clash between these nations has been decided by seven points or fewer, more than any other match-up in the Championship since 2000.

France have scored at least 30 points in each of their past four Tests – including matches against Ireland and New Zealand – the first time they have managed that since a run of five games in 2003, and they are now the only unbeaten team in this edition of the Six Nations.

However, Gregory Alldritt insists Les Bleus' full focus is on preparations for their clash with Scotland on February 26.

"This tournament is the best in the world, every weekend is a really tough game," he told ITV Sport when asked about the possibility of completing the Grand Slam.

"We're not thinking of the Grand Slam, we're just taking it step by step and a huge away game in Scotland in two weeks, so we just need to prepare for this game and not think about the rest."

Related items

  • Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka Murray's likely French Open swansong ended by wonderful Wawrinka

    Andy Murray bowed out in the opening round of what is likely to be his final French Open appearance, following a straight-sets defeat by Stan Wawrinka.

    The Swiss ran out a commanding 6-4 6-4 6-2 victor in two hours and 19 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier, and could play Murray's compatriot Cameron Norrie in round two.

    Murray was facing Wawrinka for a third successive match at Roland Garros, having lost out to the latter in the 2020 first round and 2017 semi-finals.

    The 2015 champion stole an early advantage this time around, too, breaking in the opening game and subsequently holding to win the first set.

    A single break was also enough in the second set as Wawrinka doubled his lead.

    Murray has repeatedly said he is approaching the end of his career, revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    However, the 2016 runner-up's chances of extending what is potentially his French Open swansong were all but ended as Wawrinka broke twice in the third set for a 4-0 lead, before the 39-year-old rounded off a dominant win.

    Data Debrief

    Wawrinka (39) and Murray (37) locked horns in the second-oldest match-up at Roland Garros this century, behind the 2019 first-round showdown between Ivo Karlovic (40) and Feliciano Lopez (37).

    And the Swiss was not to be denied, as he became the oldest man to win a match at the French Open since compatriot Roger Federer three years ago.

  • Leeds United 0-1 Southampton: Armstrong sends Saints marching back into Premier League Leeds United 0-1 Southampton: Armstrong sends Saints marching back into Premier League

    Southampton secured an immediate return to the Premier League after Adam Armstrong was the hero in a 1-0 victory over Leeds United in the Championship play-off final.

    Saints' top scorer Armstrong provided the decisive first-half strike at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, with his 24th league goal of the season sending Russell Martin’s side straight back into England's top division.

    The pair had scored a combined 197 goals this campaign, but just the one finish was enough to settle what was only the third second-tier play-off final between two sides relegated the previous year.

    Southampton join Leicester City and Ipswich Town in winning top-flight promotion, while Leeds – who hit the crossbar through Daniel James late on – must prepare for at least another campaign in the Championship.

    Daniel Farke's team settled the quicker of the two sides, who were separated by just three points during the regular season, but with little success in front of goal.

    Archie Gray – the youngest Leeds player to appear at Wembley – drilled just wide early on, while Wilfried Gnonto shot straight at Alex McCarthy.

    However, Southampton struck the all-important opener after 24 minutes, somewhat against the run of play.

    Armstrong beat the offside trap after Ethan Ampadu's mindless charge out from the back, latching onto Will Smallbone’s throughball before neatly slotting past Illan Meslier.

    A shoulder injury forced a distraught David Brooks off soon after but the Saints went close to doubling their lead just before the break as Meslier parried away Armstrong’s drive.

    Crysencio Summerville curled just wide from the edge of the box within four minutes of the restart as Leeds sought an equaliser.

    Substitute James rattled the crossbar with a right-footed effort six minutes from time and was again denied by McCarthy, as Southampton held on to seal their return back to the big time.

    One Armstrong finish, one giant step for Saints

    Southampton were appearing in their first-ever play-off final, and they had lost on eight of their 10 previous visits to Wembley, including each of the last five.

    However, the Saints stopped the rot with a little help from a promotion expert – boss Martin achieved five of them as a player, and this was his third to the top flight overall.

    Armstrong's cool finish proved the difference; his 24 goals this term is the most by a Southampton player in a single season since Rickie Lambert struck 27 in 2011-12 – their last promotion-winning campaign.

    It was also the Saints' 100th – and most important – goal of the season; their first time reaching triple figures since the 2009-10 season under Alan Pardew.

    More play-off pain for Leeds

    Leeds have now appeared in the English Football League play-offs on six occasions, failing to secure promotion in each of those instances.

    The omens did not look good when they fell behind considering not since Cardiff City in 2010 has a team failed to get promoted after opening the scoring in a Championship play-off final.

    It is just over 16 years since their third play-off final disappointment against Doncaster Rovers in League One (May 25, 2008), with Leeds now playing the most such matches without ever gaining promotion.

    Farke also missed the opportunity to become the third manager – after Steve Bruce (four) and Neil Warnock (three) – to win three Premier League promotions, following his Championship-winning campaigns of 2018-19 and 2020-21 with Norwich City.

  • Alcaraz moving freely after easing injury fears with French Open success Alcaraz moving freely after easing injury fears with French Open success

    Carlos Alcaraz put any concerns over an arm injury to one side after easing into the French Open second round on Sunday.

    The world number three cruised to a straight-sets victory over J.J. Wolf on Court Philippe-Chatrier, dropping just four games en route to a convincing triumph.

    Spain's Alcaraz had worries over featuring at Roland-Garros, where he was defeated in the semi-final last year, due to a troublesome arm injury.

    The 21-year-old played through his first-round victory with a supportive sleeve on his right arm, though that issue did not cause Alcaraz any problems on his emphatic return.

    "I would have loved to have played more matches," Alcaraz said after his dominant performance in Paris. 

    "I don't need too many matches to get to 100 per cent. I think I prepared well these past two weeks before coming to Paris.

    "I felt well moving. My forearm is getting better and better. That is something good for me.

    "I think I don't need too many matches to play my best."

    Alcaraz claimed a 12th win from his opening 15 matches at Roland-Garros. Since 2000, only two players have claimed more from that opening span of matches – Rafael Nadal (15) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (13).

    The powerful Alcaraz also boasts a record of 21-1 against players ranked outside the top 50 at major events, with his only such defeat inflicted by Mikael Ymer at the 2021 Australian Open.

    "I am really happy to be back here and back here in Paris," Alcaraz added. "To compete again has been a difficult month for me. I love competing and playing tennis. To stay away from that was hurting for me.

    "I tried everything I could do to be here at 100 per cent. I think I showed my best tennis today. I'm really, really happy to show my best tennis again.

    "I love playing here in Paris. The energy from the crowd here is something special. Seeing the full stadium in the first round is amazing. It's great for tennis to have a lot of people come into the tournament. I'm trying to make the people enjoy as well."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.