Irish crown O'Driscoll's goodbye in style with victory against France
By Pirate Irwin ,AFP
March 17, 2014, 12:04 am TWN
PARIS -- Ireland won the Six Nations title on Saturday with a thrilling 22-20 victory over France to give iconic center Brian O'Driscoll the perfect end to his stellar international career.
Ireland scored three tries — Jonathan Sexton getting two — to France's two in a pulsating encounter to see them to only their second win in Paris in 42 years. Fittingly the last time in 2000 O'Driscoll was also in the side and scored a hat-trick of tries.
“The emotions are starting to kick in now,” O'Driscoll told BBC.
“It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner. So many seconds along the years and so many disappointments, it is great to finish my career on a high. When I do hang this jersey up on the hook inside it will be with fond memories.
“I am absolutely delighted. There is a huge Irish contingent here and I am glad we gave them something to shout about.”
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell added: “It is fantastic. We are delighted for Ireland and the people back home and also for Brian O'Driscoll and his family — for him to have a great finish to his career is great for everyone involved.”
France won a penalty in the second minute after Steve Walsh penalized Chris Henry and Maxime Machenaud converted it for 3-0.
The Irish were taking time to settle and Dave Kearney cost them another penalty in the 14th minute when he failed to release the ball in the tackle — Machenaud made no mistake to make it 6-0.
Ireland finally made some headway into French territory and through a well worked phase of play Sexton was on hand to take a brilliant one-handed pass from Chris Henry to touch down. He missed the relatively easy conversion, however.
The Irish, though, had their tails up and when Louis Picamoles — recalled after being suspended for the Scotland match — knocked on in dropping a simple catch deep inside French territory they took full advantage.
Scrum-half Conor Murray broke into the 22 and offloaded to Trimble, who made no mistake to go over under the posts — this time Sexton made no mistake putting the Irish ahead for the first time 12-6 after 26 minutes.