International 'A': Ireland routed by French

Ireland A 23 France A 55

Ireland A 23 France A 55

Reigning champions Ireland A, who scored 68 points on their last outing in Italy, found themselves on the receiving end of a battering by a lively French outfit at Ravenhill.

The Irish never recovered from a dreadful start, in which they went 26-3 down after 34 minutes, and were punished for a lack of discipline by fly-half Jean Baptiste Elissalde, who kicked four long-range penalties before half-time,

Elissalde also kicked all four conversions and a fifth penalty in a perfect display of marksmanship that earned him a 23-point haul.

Ireland always had their work cut out against lively scrum-half Pierre Mignoni, the French captain and man of the match, who set up first half tries for hooker Benoit August and full-back Pepito Elhorga with searing breaks from the halfway line.

The Irish dominated the game for long periods but made too many handling errors and failed to take advantage of the 20th-minute sin-binning of lock Lionel Nallet for stamping.

Fly-half Jeremy Staunton raised Irish hopes with a couple of breaks but he frequently undid his good work by taking the wrong option.

They briefly got back in the game just before half-time when impressive number eight Victor Costello picked up from the base of a scrum close in and forced his way over for a try.

Staunton kicked the conversion, to add to an early penalty, to cut the score to 26-10 at half-time and he added two more penalties in the second half.

But the sin-binning of flanker Tony McWhirter for a professional foul on 51 minutes rocked Ireland back further and France sealed their win with further tries from centre Sebastien Bonetti and winger Aurelien Rougerie.

Ireland grabbed a second try through winger Anthony Horgan, his fourth in two games, and Paul Burke added the conversion but Elhorga and Bonetti both claimed their second tries in injury time as France finished in total control.

Both teams ended the match a man short after replacement forwards Sebastien Chabal (France) and Trevor Brennan (Ireland) were also shown the yellow card.

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