Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 26th 2017 Contents Sunday, February 26, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Sexton’s boot again helps Irish
down France 19-9 in Dublin
DUBLIN—Another perfect goal-
kicking effort by Jonathan Sexton
led Ireland over France 19-9 in
a rain-soaked, often sloppy Six
Nations rugby match yesterday.
Sexton hit two penalties, converted
the only try, and struck a 40-meter
dropped goal before leaving in the
68th minute with victory in sight in
his first match for Ireland since a calf
injury in November.
Ireland rose to the top of the Six
Nations table, still in contention
with undefeated England, which
faces winless Italy today.
Ireland, which won the Six Nations
in 2014 and 2015, goes to Wales be-
fore a potential championship de-
cider against England in Dublin on
St. Patrick’s weekend.
France, meanwhile, was out of
the title hunt after a second loss. It
hasn’t finished better than fourth in
Six Nations play since 2011, the last
time the Tricolors managed to beat
Ireland in Dublin.
The French mounted a ferocious
first-quarter attack to lead 6-0 on
two Camille Lopez penalty kicks.
But they had an early try disallowed
because of a Gael Fickou knock-on,
and their attack unraveled as weather
conditions steadily worsened in front
of 54,000 roaring fans.
Ireland seized momentum with a
29th-minute try from close range by
scrumhalf Conor Murray, who put
Ireland repeatedly in strong field po-
sition with pinpoint kicks. Sexton’s
conversion put Ireland up 7-6.
The Irish failed to convert sus-
tained pressure into more first-half
points, twice turning the ball over
within five meters of France’s try-
Lopez converted a 73rd-minute
penalty to pull France within 16-9,
but substitute Irish flyhalf Paddy
Jackson hit his own three minutes
later to deny France a losing bonus
Sexton’s performance mirrored his
last Dublin face-off with the French
in 2015, when he went 5-for-5 in pen-
alties in an 18-11 win. His dropped
goal for 13-6 was his only his third for
Ireland and first since 2011.
France too often self-de-
penalties to Ire-
land’s eight. Nor did
it compete consistently
in set-piece play, winning
just two mauls to Ireland’s 12.
ingly ended a run of nine losses
to Wales with a 29-13 win in Six
Nations rugby at Murrayfield
After beating Ireland in their open-
er, the Scots have knocked over an-
other team ranked above them with
a show of second-half steel that they
didn’t produce until very recently.
Down 13-9 at halftime, the Scots
scored 20 points and two brilliant
backs tries in the second half, and
blanked the Welsh.
They also eliminated Wales from
title contention while remaining in
the hunt themselves. They haven’t
been in the chase this late in the
championship since 1999 -
the last Five
and go to Twickenham in two
weeks to face defending champion
England with confidence, even
though they haven’t beaten the
English at Twickenham since 1983.
Scotland’s past and present meant
few gave it a chance on Saturday, es-
pecially after what was thought to
be the crippling loss of the injured
Greig Laidlaw, its inspirational lead-
er, scrumhalf, and main goalkicker.
But Finn Russell kicked over all
seven of his shots at goal, scrumhalf
Ali Price in his first test start was well
shaded by Wales counterpart Rhys
Webb but without costing his side,
and stand-in skipper John Barclay
led an immense forwards effort
with 10 tackles, 11 carries and
four lineout catches.
running the match.
His quick tap set up Wales’ over-
lap try for Liam Williams in the
first half, and two minutes later
his break almost put Williams in
again, but Webb was penalized for
Wales was bullying Scotland in
contact in the first half hour, but
penalties and errors were stalling
Just before the break, fullback
Leigh Halfpenny missed a penalty
and a chance to put Wales up 16-6.
Instead, Scotland produced a quick
throw-in, and backs Stuart Hogg,
Tommy Seymour and Huw Jones
counterattacked into the Welsh 22,
where they earned a penalty and
went into the break only four points
Scotland began the
second half as it finished
the first, only this time it
executed. Hogg and winger Tim
Visser, playing instead of the in-
jured Sean Maitland, combined with
a brilliant dummy run by Jones to
give Seymour the room to score out
Webb almost dragged Wales back
into the match. He couldn’t hold a
pop-up pass off the floor from center
Jonathan Davies with the tryline
close, and he had a try ruled out be-
cause Visser tackled him into touch a
blink before he touched down.
Wales missed its chances but not
Russell’s flat miss-out pass found
Hogg, who immediately laid off the
ball to Visser to score on another
overlap on the left, and secure vic-
tory with 13 minutes left at 26-13.
Russell’s fifth penalty prompt-
ed the Murrayfield crowd to sing
“Flower of Scotland” for the last
France’s Gael Fickou is tackled by Ireland’s Keith Earls during their Six Nations rugby match
at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Williams scores a
the Six Nations
rugby match at
Scotland 29-13 Wales (Murrayfield)
Ireland 19-9 France (Aviva Stadium)
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