Irish World Cup worries increase in Dublin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Irish World Cup worries increase in Dublin

By Ciaran O'Raghallaigh 21/08/2011 03:20:54 PM Comments (0)

Ireland's nightmare World Cup build-up continued as they slumped to their third warm-up defeat in three games on Saturday when they were largely outplayed in a 26-22 defeat by France.

Despite a flying start that saw Ireland lead 8-0 inside ten minutes, France fought back to register a comprehensive win - and make it two victories from two in their warm-up matches with the Irish - that was barely reflected on the final scoreboard.

Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll admitted to being frustrated at his side's inability to build on a great start.

"I'm very disappointed we weren't able to carry on the way we started," he said.

"There were great signs at the beginning but we then made stupid errors, let them in, and they grew in confidence and stepped it up."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney fielded what was close to his strongest possible XV with winger Tommy Bowe still absent through injury, and David Wallace a late withdrawal due to a hamstring injury.

"Every position is up for grabs," Kidney claimed at fulltime.

"Rugby is ultimately a team game and that's what we'll judge it on. We'll make selections according to what we think are the best fits."

Cian Healy added a try to Jonathan Sexton's early penalty to give the hosts the perfect start but a five minute period in the first half, when France scored 13 unanswered points, proved the turning point.

Francois Trinh-Duc's try early in the second half - after he intercepted a careless wild pass by Tomas O'Leary - extended a lead the visitors would not relinquish.

Late tries from Sexton and O'Brien were nothing more than a consolation.

Ireland will be concerned by more than just the scoreline however, with Healy and fullback Felix Jones both having departed the field injured.

There were 10 changes to the Ireland side that lost 19-12 in Bordeaux last weekend, with O'Driscoll and midfield partner Gordon D'Arcy starting in midfield, while Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip also made their first starts this season.

Shane Jennings filled in for Wallace in the backrow, while Jones made his first start for Ireland at the back.

There were plenty of changes in the visiting side too, with Marc Lievremont retaining just Alexis Palisson and Dmitri Szarzewski from last weekend, with the majority of the French players making their first appearance of the season.

"Of course, it's interesting to win these two warm-up matches, against a very good Ireland side," said Lievremont who will name his World Cup squad on Sunday.

It took just two minutes for Ireland to open the scoring through a penalty from Sexton. Ireland attacked the French relentlessly and it was only a matter of time before the breakthrough came.

Having stretched the French across the field, Healy was left in a one-on-one with France scrum half Parra who was simply blown away by the Leinster prop, who crossed to score his first international try in 20 appearances.

Sexton pushed the conversion wide, but Ireland deservedly led 8-0 with just 11 minutes gone until France turned the match on its head.

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