Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Six Nations: France v Ireland - key battles

Ireland travel to Paris for the rearranged RBS 6 Nations clash with France on Sunday. Both sides go into the game on the back of victories, with the hosts still on course for a Grand Slam.

CLEMENT POITRENAUD v ROB KEARNEY

Injury to French full-back Maxime Medard means a recall for 29-year-old Poitrenaud who, while offering a strong attacking threat, is not as solid defensively as his injured club-mate. Kearney has shaken off a groin injury to line up for the Irish,and will hope to carry on where he left off in Rome when he put in a sterling display as his side ran in five tries.

IMANOL HARINORDOQUY v JAMIE HEASLIP

Harinordoquy returns to his favoured number eight position, as Julien Bonnaire comes in for Louis Picamoles, and will look to disrupt the effectiveness of Ireland's line-outs as well as dominate the breakdowns. Harinordoquy has claimed the breakdown will be the key factor in who emerges victorious in Paris. Opposite number Heaslip has had a fine tournament up to now, but knows facing the French back row is always one of the toughest tests of the championship.

VINCENT CLERC v TOMMY BOWE

French winger Clerc has proved a menace to the Irish on countless occasions, with a record of eight tries in nine appearances against them, including a late try in 2007 that halted Ireland's chances of a Grand Slam. The 30-year-old is six scores short of Serge Blanco's French record of 38 tries. Bowe is not even halfway to Brian O'Driscoll's Irish record, but he has scored three times in the championship so far and will need to be at his sharpest defensively to keep the French wingers at bay.

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