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Six Nations: Carolan's young guns unable to repeat past heroics

France 34-13 Ireland

By Billy Keily

Published 13/02/2016

Gripping: Jimmy and Conor O’Brien of Ireland get shirty
Gripping: Jimmy and Conor O’Brien of Ireland get shirty

Nigel Carolan's Under-20 side were out-muscled in the second-half in Narbonne as they fell to their second defeat of the Six Nations.

Two tries from French lock Florian Verhaegue settled the encounter as Ireland failed to bounce back from their opening loss against Wales.

It was Ireland's fifth defeat in a row in the competition. Their last victory was at home to France last year, but they could not live with the home side's second-half onslaught.

Out-half Anthony Belleau was outstanding from the tee and he landed six of his seven kicks.

Despite first-half tries from Peter Claffey and James Ryan, Ireland couldn't repeat their heroics from Grenoble in 2012 when they won in France for the first time.

Ireland were 17-13 down at half-time, despite dominating territory and possession.

Ireland went ahead after seven minutes with a penalty from Johnny McPhillips.

After Belleau levelled, the visitors went back in front just before the half-hour when Claffey dotted down. McPhillips missed the conversion.

A tremendous last-ditch tackle from Ryan denied Gabriel N'Gandebe what looked a certain try, as the Ireland captain held the winger up over the line.

However, from the subsequent scrum Ireland dragged France down as they got the shove on, and were punished with a penalty try. Belleau's conversion put the hosts 10-8 up.

Straight from the kick-off Ireland won a penalty, again McPhillips went to the corner and it was a carbon-copy of Ireland's first effort. This time Ryan got the try his hard work deserved.

McPhillips missed his second kick of the evening and France had one more reply before the break. Wing N'Gandebe touched down in the corner after the Ireland defence got stretched.

It was a totally different game after the break and within three minutes, France pushed 20-13 in front from another Belleau penalty.

Ireland had no response as France trundled forward time and again, and as the French unloaded their massive bench Verhaegue crossed the whitewash for his first in the 56th minute.

When Verheague doubled his tally with 17 minutes remaining the game was up for Ireland.

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