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Trimble's close but no cigar

By Michael Sadlier

Andrew Trimble surged through, regathered possession, and bolted on towards the line only to be called back by referee Jaco Peyper who wasn't interested in his claims that the ball had come off his head and not his hands.

It was just a cameo in another hard-working effort from the Ulsterman but just seemed to sum up Ireland's day at a rain-swept Stade de France. A case of nearly getting there and then being punished for it.

And, yes, there were clearly some poor decisions made by the man in the middle but Ireland have really only themselves to blame.

It was hardly Trimble's fault that the men in green just weren't able to score more points in that opening 40 minutes and the way things fell there was no repeat of his scoring exploits from the Six Nations triumph of 2014.

Instead, the 31-year-old found himself more gainful employment in defensive duties. In the second half, his outstretched arm preventing Jules Plisson from putting Jonathan Danty in for what looked like a score over on Ireland's left while, on his own wing, he made sure he nailed Virimi Vakatawa when play swept down that channel in a dangerous looking attack.

Jared Payne was even more industrious and ended up being credited with 15 tackles while, afterwards, Joe Schmidt revealed that he stayed on for the last 30 minutes or so despite having a dead leg.

His ability to be in the right place at the right time was, as usual, noticeable. Payne was there, with Rory Best, to hold up Damien Chouly just before the series of penalties and scrums which decided the outcome and, later on, he helped shepherd the dangerous Maxime Machenaud into touch.

As for cutting edge? Well, that wasn't really seen in this horrible arm-wrestle and, up front, Rory Best's usual presence around the park wasn't what he would have wanted either.

Belfast Telegraph


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