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France a different beast at home

Sun, 09 Mar 2014 07:19
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France coach Philippe Saint-Andre backed his side to be much improved when they face Ireland in a potential Six Nations title decider in Paris.
 

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre backed his side to be a much improved outfit when they face Ireland in a potential Six Nations title decider in Paris.

Replacement scrumhalf Jean-Marc Doussain's 79th minute penalty saw France to a fortunate 19-17 win away to Scotland on Saturday.

"It will be a different game at home at the Stade de France in front of our crowd," Saint-Andre said.

"We need to start well and accelerate during the 80 minutes but I am sure the guys can do this," the former France captain added.

"The target (against Scotland) was to win, to keep our discipline, keep our composure and we did this during the 80 minutes."

Earlier, Ireland thrashed Italy 46-7 in Dublin as they, like France, made it three wins from four Six Nations matches this season.

Either England or Wales, who play each other at Twickenham on Sunday, are set to join the leaders on three wins barring a draw in London.

Although all three final round fixtures take place on March 15, France and Ireland will be in the privileged position of knowing exactly what they need to do to win the title as theirs is the last match to kick-off.

The game will also have an extra special significance as it is set to be Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll's final Test before the centre's retirement.

"I hope the Brian O'Driscoll party was today in Dublin, not next week at the Stade de France," said Saint-Andre.

Saturday's match in Edinburgh saw France record their first away victory in the Six Nations since they won at Murrayfield two years ago.

France scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud kicked three penalties before the break but they still trailed 14-9 at the interval after Scotland scored converted tries through full-back Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour.

But early in the second half France led when wing Yoann Huget picked off Scotland flyhalf Duncan Weir's 'telegraphed' pass and sprinted some 90 metres for an intercept try.

Weir kicked a penalty to nudge Scotland into a one-point lead heading into the final quarter but the drop-goal hero of Scotland's last-gasp win against Italy in Rome then missed with a 44-metre effort.

At 17-16 Scotland were only one lapse away from defeat and it came when, with barely two minutes left, lock Tim Swinson was penalised for not releasing at the breakdown in front of his own posts.

Doussain, on as a replacement for Machenaud, made no mistake and France had their eighth successive win over Scotland.

"It is a good sign how we got back into the game and this win is especially important as it shows we can win away from home," said Huget.

AFP

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SIX NATIONS
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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 4 0 1 8
England 5 4 0 1 8
Wales 5 4 0 1 8
France 5 2 0 3 4
Italy 5 1 0 4 2
Scotland 5 0 0 5 0