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    What the all-knowing one thought of it

    @@@@SPAN =byline>Stephen Jones at Croke Park @@@@/SPAN>
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    It was a magnificent occasion and the crowd at the gigantic Croke Park made a noise that almost stunned the senses, as rugby came to the spiritual home of Gaelic games for the first time. But the result sits unhappily on the shoulders of the occasion itself, because Ireland were sensationally beaten by a try inside the last two minutes of the match, when Vincent Clerc of France weaved his way dramatically past four Irish defenders to score at the posts.


    And so Ireland's heady aspirations to take the Six Nations title and also, in their fondest dreams, to win what would have been only the second Grand Slam in their history, now have to contemplate the wreckage. They face England at the same stadium a week on Saturday, in a game which will be even more emotional for all kinds of reasons, but in the build-up they have to cope with a savage disappointment and yet another feeling of let-down.


    Yet even though the game was taken from them so cruelly, it would be harsh indeed to say that France did not deserve their victory. They were categorically the better side in the first half and it was a travesty that they went in only 13-11 ahead - though their own profligacy in wasting chances contributed.


    Granted, Ireland dominated much of the second half, roared on by a crowd almost in the grip of hysteria as Ireland attacked and as the Irish forwards turned the screw on a French pack which had once been dominant. <!-#include ="m63-article-related-attachements."-><!- BEGIN: Module - M63 - Article Related Attachements ->
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    But Ireland sadly missed their galvanising captain, Brian O'Driscoll. It was not only that they had to soldier on without O'Driscoll's penetrating running, but also that the subsequent re-shuffle did not work. Shane Horgan, moved to inside centre from the wing, lacked the composure of a true play-maker. The Irish line-out was fitful, Ronan O'Gara was not at his best at fly-half and the Irish back three were desperately mundane.


    This was all a pity. Ireland made mighty efforts, spurred on by the likes of David Wallace on the flank and by the rumbustuous talents of Isaac Boss at scrum-half. But ultimately, their passions and their application could not carry them clear and they remained prey to any late French thrust. That thrust duly and devastatingly arrived.


    The 15,000 French supporters in Croke Park gave their victorious heroes a wonderful reception at the end. France may be bewilderingly inconsistent in performance and selection, they may be without several key players. But their application and their courage in what seemed to be the whole of the Irish nation, was exemplary.


    They were wonderfully served in their dominant early exchanges by their back row of Imanol Harinordoquy, Serge Betsen and Sebastien Chabal and especially in the first half where they created some glor
    Unrepentant Langer

    #2

    Think thats fair[img]smileys/shock.gif[/img] Apart from the last line, still can't picture England winning in Dublin. They are simply crap.
    Commemorate Nevin Spence here -
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      #3


      Originally posted by Jackie Brown
      Think thats fair[img]smileys/shock.gif[/img] Apart from the last line, still can't picture England winning in Dublin. They are simply crap.




      Jones might be fair in his assesmment of games with the benefit of hindsight, but he is more often than not a country mile off the mark before games. I knew we'd be beaten when he tipped us to beat France.Thank Christ he is tipping England (at least I hope he is). Now I am sure we will beat them. Jus like when he tipped Leinster last year, I knew we couldn't fail
      Unrepentant Langer

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