Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Six Nations: O'Connell warns Ireland to cut out errors

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell believes restricting the error count holds the key to dispatching France in Paris on Sunday.

The RBS 6 Nations title rivals meet in the rescheduled fixture after the original game was postponed three weeks ago due to a frozen pitch.

Ireland's return to Paris has revived talk of their appalling record in the French capital of a solitary victory since 1972.

O'Connell has lost on all five visits to the Stade de France and painful experience has taught him that the Irish are usually the architects of their own downfall.

"We've given them soft tries in my time since I've been there," said the Munster and Lions lock.

"That's been the most common theme and you just can't do that in Paris.

"We've certainly played some good rugby there, but usually after we've left ourselves with too big a mountain to climb.

"Maybe we've tried a little bit too hard in the past.

"In the first half-hour against Italy last weekend it wasn't a great performance, but we were patient.

"Against France we must play in the right parts of the pitch.

"A big part of it for us will be eradicating those errors that can cost you momentum. You have to take you best game over there.

"If we play to our potential we can beat anyone, but reaching that level is the challenge."

France face Ireland seven days after their 23-17 victory over Scotland - a match that saw them fight back after slipping 10-0 behind.

The set-piece was an area of dominance for Les Bleus, while O'Connell was also impressed by how clinical they were at Murrayfield.

"France seemed to have a an awful lot of confidence in their scrum against Scotland," he said.

"They didn't quick tap on any of the free-kicks they won - they went for the scrum. It's obviously a massive part of their game.

"They probably didn't have as much ball as they'd have liked, but when they did they looked incredibly dangerous.

"Whenever Scotland scored they seemed to have another gear to go into.

"That will be more reflective of the France team we'll see this weekend.

"They are a top-class team. Scotland had them under pressure but when France get a chance, they're deadly."

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