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Rugby World Cup: Star man Henderson stands tall coming from the bench

By Michael Sadlier

Published 12/10/2015

Tommy Bowe and Chris Henry celebrate the win against France
Tommy Bowe and Chris Henry celebrate the win against France

He was barely on the pitch, and was called into action earlier than anticipated due to Paul O'Connell's difficulties, but Iain Henderson made his presence felt with immediate effect.

No doubt stung at being asked to bench, his first contribution was to steal a lineout as Ireland ramped up their all-consuming pressure game at the start of the second half.

And if you are looking for an iconic image of this epic and first-ever World Cup win over Les Bleus, then Henderson provided a moment with just over 10 minutes to go when Ireland were still leading but under the cosh.

The French won a penalty and went for the corner though, not for the first time, they didn't exactly look confident at lineout time. The ball ended up in the hands of Yoann Maestri and Henderson picked him up, drove the French player back, and dumped him into the Cardiff turf.

Several minutes later and Ireland were up in the French 22 and there he was again spinning away to drive himself forward in the huge surge which ultimately led to Conor Murray's match-securing try.

And what of Tommy Bowe? How he has roared back to show us that he still has what it takes.

Bowe's line for the first-half chance which was dropped by Keith Earls was vintage stuff as the Monaghan man tore through a hole in France's midfield. It was widely accepted that he would be there to chase high kicks and, again, Bowe delivered here while also being involved in the lead-up to Rob Kearney's try.

It was Murray's score which brought major contributions being made by Rory Best and replacement Chris Henry with the former being held up just inches short before Murray touched the ball off the base of the post.

Best was magnificent and his leadership qualities came to the fore in Ireland's hour of need. One example of his handiwork came late in the first half just after France had sacked an Irish scrum. Les Bleus began to ramp up their phase play but there was Best and Jamie Heaslip 'jackaling' the ball to win a vital turnover.

A young Ireland fan watches from the stands during the Rugby World Cup match at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Photo: PA
A young Ireland fan watches from the stands during the Rugby World Cup match at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Photo: PA
Ireland's number 8 Jamie Heaslip celebrates. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER.
Thierry Dusautoir and Dave Kearney after the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ireland's lock Iain Henderson celebrates with team-mates. AFP PHOTO / DAMIEN MEYER
Dave Kearney of Ireland is wrapped up during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ireland's Iain Henderson in action. Photo:David Davies/PA Wire.
France's lock Yoann Maestri reacts after Ireland's scrum half Conor Murray scored their second try during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on October 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE
Ireland's lock and captain Paul O'Connell takes on France's lock Yoann Maestri. Photo: PA
Paul O'Connell is tackled by France's lock Yoann Maestri Photo: Getty
Referee Nigel Owens. Photo: PA
Ireland's Paul O'Connell receives treatment during the Rugby World Cup match.Photo: PA
Ireland's lock and captain Paul O'Connell tackles France's fly half Frederic Michalak. Photo: Getty
Ireland's fly half Jonathan Sexton leaves the field injured. Photo: Getty
Ireland's fly half Jonathan Sexton holds the ball during the Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between France and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photo: Getty.
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland is tackled by Louis Picamoles. Photo: Getty
Ireland's scrum half Conor Murray tackles France's full-back Scott Spedding. Photo: Getty
France's scrum half Sebastien Tillous-Borde on the ball. Photo: Getty
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip in action. Photo: Getty
France's centre Wesley Fofana goes for the ball. Photo: Getty
France's Thierry Dusautoir passes the ball. Photo: PA
Ireland's lock Devin Toner catches the ball in a lineout. Photo: Getty
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland has his shirt pulled by Louis Picamoles (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
France's wing Noa Nakaitaci (top) goes over to reach the ball against Dave Kearney. Getty
Ireland's fly half Jonathan Sexton prepares to kick a penalty. Photo: Getty
Peter O'Mahony of Ireland receives medical treatment during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between France and Ireland.(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony is stretchered off. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE.
Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony lays on a stretcher as he leaves the pitch. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS
Rob Kearney of Ireland goes up to take the ball during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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