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Good start crucial, warns Bowe

Tommy Bowe insists Ireland must avoid reproducing the kamikaze starts of previous years if they are to have any hope of storming the Stade de France.

The Irish will stage their latest attempt at securing a rare victory on French soil when they meet the RBS 6 Nations second favourites on Sunday. Recent attempts at dispatching Les Bleus in Paris have been all but over after conceding unassailable early leads.

Bowe said: "Sunday is a huge game. We played France last year and lost 25-22, despite scoring three tries to one. Our discipline cost us. When you go to the Stade de France you just can't afford to concede easy points. In the past we've given them a big head start before going close to pulling it back."

He added: "It's important that we stay in the game for as long as we can."

Victory would give Ireland only their second win in Paris since 1972 and their first since a little-known Brian O'Driscoll captivated the rugby world with his stunning hat-trick in 2000.

It would also thrust them back into title contention, though unbeaten Wales - who have now supplanted France as tournament favourites - would remain in the driving seat.

Sunday's showdown, played on the Six Nations' second break weekend after the original fixture on February 11 was postponed due to a frozen pitch, begins a schedule of three games in 14 days. It is a far from ideal scenario, but Bowe insists the players are accustomed to such a gruelling workload.

"International rugby is harder, but for our clubs we play week after week after week for most of the season," said the Ospreys winger.

"It's more a case of keeping everyone injury-free and getting on with it. We beat Italy last weekend and hopefully we can kick on from there.

"Whenever we get into the opposition half we've always looked dangerous. Our only problem against Wales and Italy was getting out of our own half. We've shown we can score tries, so the right thing for us to do is spend more time in the opposition half."

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