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Six Nations: Good start crucial for Ireland, warns Bowe

By Duncan Bech

Tommy Bowe insists Ireland must avoid reproducing the kamikaze starts of previous years if they are to have any hope of storming the Stade de France.

The Irish will stage their latest attempt at securing a rare victory on French soil when they meet the RBS 6 Nations second favourites on Sunday.

Recent attempts at dispatching Les Bleus in Paris have been all but over after conceding unassailable early leads.

On two occasions, in 2006 and 2008, they fought back valiantly and threatened to reel in their opponents, but ultimately had left themselves with too much ground to make up.

Bowe said: "Sunday is a huge game. We played France last year and lost 25-22, despite scoring three tries to one. Our discipline cost us.

"When you go to the Stade de France you just can't afford to concede easy points. You have to put the pressure on them by imposing your own gameplan.

"In the past we've given them a big head start before going close to pulling it back.

"It's important that we stay in the game for as long as we can."

Victory would give Ireland only their second win in Paris since 1972 and their first since a little-known Brian O'Driscoll captivated the rugby world with his stunning hat-trick in 2000.

It would also thrust them back into title contention, though unbeaten Wales - who have now supplanted France as tournament favourites - would remain in the driving seat.

Sunday's showdown, played on the Six Nations' second break weekend after the original fixture on February 11 was postponed due to a frozen pitch, begins a schedule of three games in 14 days.

It is a far from ideal scenario, but Bowe insists the players are accustomed to such a gruelling workload.

"International rugby is harder, but for our clubs we play week after week after week for most of the season," said the Ospreys winger.

"It's more a case of keeping everyone injury-free and getting on with it. We beat Italy last weekend and hopefully we can kick on from there.

"Whenever we get into the opposition half we've always looked dangerous.

"Our only problem against Wales and Italy was getting out of our own half. We've shown we can score tries, so the right thing for us to do is spend more time in the opposition half."

Bowe's brace in the 42-10 rout of Italy lifted him to third in the all-time list of Irish try-scorers with 22, behind Brian O'Driscoll and Denis Hickie.

"It's always nice to get on the scoresheet, though it's disappointing that try in the Wales game didn't count for much," said the 28-year-old.

"But we scored five tries against Italy, which was great.

"We've got a big couple of weeks coming up and hopefully I'll get on the scoresheet again."

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