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Earls relishing French test

Keith Earls insists Ireland's spirits have been lifted for their daunting trip to Paris by their resounding RBS 6 Nations victory over Italy.

The Irish emerged 42-10 winners at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday to haul themselves back into title contention following their loss to Wales three weeks ago. Their next assignment is Six Nations favourites France in a rearranged fixture postponed because of a frozen pitch.

A solitary victory since 1972 is all the Irish have to show from four decades of campaigning in Paris, but Earls said: "We're happy. That was a big scoreline for us against Italy. After the Welsh game we wanted to go out and prove ourselves. It's a good note on which to be going to the Stade de France next week."

Ireland led just 17-10 at the interval but took full advantage of Italy's second-half collapse to register a much-needed victory.

Tommy Bowe crossed twice while Tom Court, Andrew Trimble and Earls also touched down with Jonathan Sexton kicking 17 points.

"Not much was said at half-time. We knew it was going to take 60-odd minutes to break Italy down," said Earls.

"We got in some good positions in the field in the first half but their defence was good and there were a couple of mistakes from ourselves.

"We knew we had to be direct in the second half, which we did and the scores came from that.

"The second half was a lot better and we got our second wind and some good scores. The back line clicked so it was good."

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