Six Nations 2012: France fight back to draw with Ireland
Ireland end France's Grand Slam hopes by holding out to secure a draw in the rearranged Six Nations clash in Paris
Tommy Bowe’s first-half double was in vain as France denied Ireland a first win in Paris for 12 years as they came back to draw at Stade de France.
Ireland would have had hope of a first victory in the French capital since 2000 as they went into the interval 17-6 ahead thanks to two Bowe tries and the boot of Jonathan Sexton.
But after Morgan Parra had kept France in it Wesley Fofana crossed after the break to cap a fine revival from the home side, although their dreams of an RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam diminished as they couldn’t find the winning score in the dying minutes.
Sexton had the first chance to get some points on the board in this rearranged fixture following a frozen pitch on February 11 but he sent his seventh-minute penalty wide of the posts.
But if that was a let off for Les Blues then they shot themselves in the foot just six minutes later as they handed Ireland a simple try.
France had possession but were made to pay for some static passing, Bowe intercepting a lacklustre Aurelien Rougerie telegraphed effort to score under the posts.
Sexton made no mistake with the simple conversion but ten minutes later France were on the scoresheet through a Parra penalty after Paul O’Connell was caught offside.
However the men in green restored their seven point advantage just two minutes later when Sexton was on target with a 25m penalty.
Just moments later Bowe thought he was in for another intercepted try only to fail to gather and conceding a scrum which led to a penalty for Parra, the scrum-half doubling his tally but only after the ball went over after hitting the bar.
He wasn’t so lucky with another attempt five minutes, missing from 30m out, and he was made to rue his wayward effort as Bowe silenced the Stade de France crowd with his second try of the first half.
Ireland turned the ball over inside their own 22 and attacked from deep, the ball finding its way to Bowe on the right before the wing chipped over the France defence for a superb solo touch down – his 24th in international rugby.
Sexton added the extras to give Declan Kidney’s men a comfortable 17-6 half-time lead.
France came out for the second half early as they set about chipping away at Ireland’s lead, which they did on 47 minutes courtesy of Parra’s third penalty.
And it got even better for the home side as centre Fofana made it three tries in as many games in a French shirt, bursting through the midfield and holding off Rob Kearney’s last-ditch tackle to get his side back in the contest.
Parra was narrowly wide with the difficult conversion on the left touchline but he levelled the scores at 17-17 on 58 minutes with a fine penalty near the halfway line.
France were in the ascendancy but a drive forward from Kearney alleviated the pressure on Ireland, but Rory Best overthrew a lineout 10m from the French tryline and the threat was over.
Replacement Lionel Beauxis thought he would grab the headlines with eight minutes left only to make a hash of his drop-goal attempt and the scores remained level.
And that is how it stayed as Ireland’s defence held firm for the final few minutes to dash any French hopes of a Grand Slam.