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Rugby World Cup: Saint-Andre gives Irish a few pointers for Cardiff tie

By Jonathan Bradley

Another French win but another performance that will do nothing to dampen dissent back home or Irish optimism about a meeting with Philippe Saint-Andre's side in Cardiff on Sunday, October 11.

They earned the bonus point but the final score of 41-18 was a little flattering and with the hour mark approaching - a stage in the game when Ireland led Kieran Crowley's men by a score of 29-0 -there were just six points in the contest.

Les Blues had started with an ominous spring in their step but the need to put pressure on mercurial out-half Freddie Michalak in nine days time was there for all to see.

Prone to inspire and infuriate in equal measure, the Toulon man was given the freedom of Milton Keynes when allowed to create an opening for Wesley Fofana to dive over and he would have repeated the trick thanks to an audacious kick had his centre been able to cleanly gather a bouncing ball.

While not able to double his try total in that moment, the form of the Clermont superstar now back in his favoured position will have been noted by Ireland's midfield hopefuls.

Their success was not replicated throughout the backline and Canada's first score from DTH van der Merwe, the Pro12 star who switches Glasgow for Scarlets when the World Cup concludes, showed up both of France's less than convincing wings.

Debutant Remy Grosso, a surprise call-up when Yoann Huget was lost for the tournament through injury, was beaten badly in the air while Brice Dulin's positioning again indicated he is still much more comfortable in a 15 jersey.

In the end, France were able to use their lineout - the source of much of their attacking joy - to establish superiority on the scoreboard but it must be said that, while a weapon, the Canucks made no effort to challenge the Irish set-piece two weeks ago either.

The primary worry must be that France, surely, have to be better than this next week.

It's still three wins from three for Saint-Andre's men ahead of the pool-defining clash in Cardiff, though … over to you Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph


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