France 17 Ireland 17: Paris despair as Ireland miss chance to end decades of hurt

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Ireland were denied a precious victory in Paris when France staged a second-half fightback that concluded in a tense RBS Six Nations stalemate.

At half-time that elusive first Irish triumph in the French capital since 2000, and only a second in four decades, appeared within grasp.

Two tries from Tommy Bowe, who has now crossed 24 times in 47 games including five times in this Six Nations, offered sight of a rare prize.

The brilliant Bowe snatched an intercept score from Aurelien Rougerie’s loose pass before later completing a fine solo effort.

And with Jonathan Sexton kicking a penalty and two conversions Ireland established a 17-6 interval lead, but they were unable to score again.

Instead it was France who threatened, centre Wesley Fofana pouncing on a loose ball to touch down in the 51st minute and the boot of scrum-half Morgan Parra doing the rest.

The outcome ends the prospect of a Grand Slam decider between Wales and France on March 17, while Ireland’s title aspirations are now effectively over.

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell spoke of his frustration and disappointment after seeing his side denied a rare away victory.

He said: “It’s disappointing for us, we played good rugby in the first half, we didn’t match it in the second.

“It’s disappointing, we had a great opportunity to win and we didn’t take it. It’s frustrating for us, you don’t get many chances to win here.

“The scoreline as it was at half-time, for us not to win is very disappointing for the lads.”

Winger Bowe echoed those thoughts, saying: “I think disappointment is the overall feeling at the minute.

“Obviously we had an outstanding first half, we put them under so much pressure but to come away with no points in the second half is a huge disappointment, and it’s a very quiet dressing room in there at the minute.

“Obviously we were very happy with the first half, to score two tries over here is very difficult, but to come away with just a draw, nobody enjoys a draw, we’re just quite disappointed in there.”

Ireland have now won just one of their three Six Nations matches, having narrowly lost to Wales in their first outing before convincingly beating Italy last time out.

Next up for Declan Kidney’s side are Scotland at the Aviva Stadium next weekend before they complete their campaign with a trip to Twickenham to face England.

Bowe added: “We’ve got two massive games now.

“We obviously suffered a disappointment against Wales at the start of the campaign, then we really showed the quality that we had last week (against Italy)and we showed it in the first half today.

“The second half was disappointing, we now need to dust ourselves off and hopefully come away with two big performances.”

France now host England next Sunday.