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We let France out of jail admits Ireland's Trimble

By Jonathan Bradley

Winger Andrew Trimble described Ireland's inability to score more than nine points against France during Saturday's Six Nations defeat as "criminal".

The visitors began the game on top at the Stade de France with Guy Noves' side looking all too similar to the Philippe Saint-Andre squad that was so abject at the World Cup.

A 9-3 lead at half-time displayed a failure on Ireland's part to take full advantage of their opposition's poor start and, as the men in green failed to manage a single point after the turn, Maxime Medard's late try, converted by Jules Plisson, improbably saw France claim their second victory from as many games.

Following the result, Trimble didn't mince his words.

"It's criminal getting down there but then not taking your chances," said the Ulsterman. "It was greasy, it was tough, but we should be a side that backs ourselves whenever we get opportunities and we didn't.

"A lot of that damage was done in the first-half and then that put us under pressure in the second. We had a decent little lead and in the second-half we were under pressure from minute one.

"There were a couple of occasions when we got down there but really it was difficult to play a lot of rugby and put them under pressure.

"They're a big heavy pack and you're trying to shift them around and the conditions weren't conducive to doing that.

"So once the game slows down, they can carry and get over the gain-line and with that momentum they become a very hard side to deal with.

"The first-half was crucial. We should have scored whenever we got down there and we didn't so we were always going to be chasing our tails in the second-half. "We should have had a bigger lead."

As the rain came teeming down in a Parisian downpour, conditions did not help a sloppy game with Trimble hugely frustrated by Ireland's failing efforts to protect possession.

"A lot of us have to hold our hands up and say we didn't look after the ball as well as we should have," he added. "There was maybe a bit of sloppiness at the breakdown but we coughed up ball a few times when we had scoring opportunities and that's criminal.

"I think in the first-half we were better… 12-3 could have very easily (got us over the line).

"But the same thing happened last week. We felt a little bit of heat and we couldn't come out."

After such a disappointing World Cup - the familiar stumbling block of the quarter-finals again proving an insurmountable hurdle - this season's schedule always looked daunting.

With Wales at home up first an eminently losable fixture - ultimately Ireland drew 16-16 but only after squandering another lead - trips to France and England would follow before facing Italy and Scotland at the Aviva.

Heading to Twickenham at the end of this month without a win was always the nightmare scenario for Joe Schmidt and his men but after results over the last two weeks so it has proved.

Ahead of the visit to west London, Trimble believes that Ireland have the mental strength and confidence to respond.

"I hope we're building something ahead of Twickenham," said the 60-times capped wing.

"We've passed up three points from two games and now we have a big challenge. We could be daunted by that - no wins, going to England, it's a big ask - but we need to treat it as a big opportunity.

"We have to go there and win. It won't be easy. We have a group who can react the right way."

Regardless of what happens against Eddie Jones' men 12 days from now, Ireland know that the retaining of a championship they won on points difference in each of the last two seasons is no longer in their control, a reality that Trimble described as "miserable".

To have any chance of an historic three-in-a-row, they need to win their remaining three games and hope that unlikely results go in their favour elsewhere.

"It's not in our hands," sighed the Coleraine man.

"That's a little bit miserable.

"But we have to (just) look at Twickenham.

"We can't look any further. We'll try to work hard and potentially go and get a result."

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