France v Ireland preview

Updated: March 3, 2012

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Lights, camera, take two. Later than expected Ireland travel to Paris looking to end a hoodoo in the French capital when they take on France in their rearranged Six Nations game on Sunday afternoon, kick off 3.00pm (Irish time.)

While the initial postponement of the original game due to a frozen pitch may have aggrieved the Irish team and supporters alike, it might have worked in the teams favour after a comfortable and confidence boosting win against Italy in the Aviva last weekend.

Declan Kidney has, unsurprisingly, stuck with the same 22 that faced the Italians. Keith Earls has another chance to grow into the number 13 jersey and Jonny Sexton can build on a mature performance in Dublin where he looked a lot more comfortable in the green of Ireland than he has done for some time.

To beat France however it will take a collective effort to stop a team that are still firmly on course for a Grand Slam.

Ireland need a big game from the likes of Jamie Heaslip, who needs to offer more when Ireland have the ball in hand. Heaslip, along with the wrecking balls known as Stephen Ferris and Sean O’Brien need to get into the faces of Dusautoir, Bonnaire and Harinordoquy.

Unlike the Wales game Ireland have to come out and stand up in the opening 20 minutes. Much has been made of Ireland’s tenancy to start slow in their games, if this happens Sunday the French will be ruthless.

The side that Philippe Saint-Andre has picked is dripping with talent. The likes of Aurelien Rougerie, Vincent Clerc (Ireland’s tormentor in chief) and Clement Poitrenaud roll of the tongue and would slide into most teams in the world.

Rougerie in particular will be looking to attack Earls at 13 given the size of the French man (1.93m and 106kg) to Earls (1.8m and 90kg).

For Ireland to win an 80 minute, which have been in short supply of late, is needed. Their tempo, aggression and accuracy have to be right on the money from the first whistle to the last.

Ireland will need to flood the breakdown and put France on the back foot. Conor Murray and Eoin Redden, should he come on, will be key in delivering quick ball to the likes of Earls, Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble.

Even then it is hard to look beyond France. They have been less than spectacular in their opening two games, yet they won both. They, like Ireland, are due a big performance. In the heel of the hunt France should have too much for Ireland and are selected to win.

Prediction France to win

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v France, 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Stade De France, Sunday, March 4, kick-off 4pm local time/3pm Irish time):

15 – Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 – Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
12 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 – Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
10 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
9 – Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 – Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 – Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 – Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt)
6 – Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 – Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)

16 – Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
17 – Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
19 – Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 – Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
21 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
22 – Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster

France team
15 C Poitrenaud 14 V Clerc 13 A Rougerie 12 W Fofana 11 J Malzieu 10 F Trinh-Duc 9 M Parra 1 J-B Poux 2 D Szarzewski 3 N Mas 4 P Pape 5 Y Maestri 6 T Dusautoir (captain) 7 Julien Bonnaire 8 I Harinordoquy

Replacements: 16 W Servat 17 V Debaty 18 L Nallet 19 J Bonnaire 20 J Dupuy 21 L Beauxis 22 M Mermoz

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