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Ireland playing catch up - Trimble

Andrew Trimble admits the failure to contain France's early onslaught at the Stade Chaban-Delmas led to Ireland's downfall.

Looking every inch World Cup contenders in the first of only two matches in preparation for New Zealand, the French were unstoppable as they raced 13-0 ahead. Wing Vincent Clerc emerged as chief tormentor once more, scoring his ninth try in nine games against Ireland, in an ominously dominant start.

Ronan O'Gara led the Irish fightback in the second half but Trimble insists the damage had already been done as they slumped to a 19-12 loss. And he said: "They came out of the blocks fairly quickly but we knew they were going to do that. They like to start fast to take the pace out of your own game. If they don't do that, they end up chasing their tails a little bit."

He added: "If things don't go their way they have a habit of getting frustrated and a bit tired. Then the game flipped and it looked like we were going to be in the ascendancy but we never quite got there

"It's tough coming to France. The crowd get on your backs and there's bit of a carnival atmosphere, everyone's having a good time.

"It's very difficult to stop the rot and get back into the game, but we did manage to change the tide a bit."

France lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous in a flash, attacking the second half with gusto until a break from Rob Kearney saw the initiative dramatically change hands. It was only then that Ireland could compete on equal terms with O'Gara eating away at the deficit through a string of penalties.

A late assault on the French line aimed at securing a draw was repelled as Ireland slumped to their second consecutive defeat of their summer series.

For successive Saturdays coach Declan Kidney has looked crestfallen in defeat and there was no attempt to retreat behind an improved second half on Saturday.

"I'd hate to go back into the past and say that I'm glad we had a really good second half," said Kidney.

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