Sexton silences Stade de France with last gasp drop

06 February, 2018, 14:31 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Will Greenwood predicts Ireland to win Six Nations

When Jonathan Sexton's long-distance dropped goal just crept over the crossbar in the last act of the game, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt celebrated like he was among the delirious fans behind the posts.

When asked what he thought of before kicking the winning goal, the fly-half said: "I went back to many years ago when we played Treviso away and I was in an nearly identical position and just flashed back to that". On this occasion, he was relieved to avoid more Paris pain after ruining Jacques Brunel's first game as Les Bleus head coach.

The boss man has seen many things in this insane game but how about an 82nd minute drop goal from 46 metres out to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat in Paris?!

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton appeared to challenge referee Nigel Owens after Dupont's departure on 75 minutes.

France stars Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont suffered knee injuries, but were also sent for head injury assessments (HIAs) in Saturday's clash.

"I have an official match doctor who is telling me it is a HIA".

Dupont's departure five minutes from the end allowed Maxime Machenaud, the starting scrum half, to return to the field, which would not have been possible had it not been for the HIA. It's only the fourth time Ireland have won in Paris in the past 66 years.

But if Ireland do go on to claim this Six Nations on St Patrick's Day at Twickenham in March - and they must feel destiny is on their side now - they will have Sexton to thank for an utterly outrageous 42-metre drop-goal in the final knockings of this mostly drab contest.

"We're up against a team in full confidence who had a great a year ago (2017), beating England and winning all their November tests", he said. When he struck the drop goal I was just willing it to have enough distance to get over. "All our (tournament) goals would have crumbled today if we had lost".

That would have forced France into a backline reshuffle.

France was still in contention after Sexton missed his first penalty of the night and Thomas scored the only try of an otherwise locked game.

His nervy start included dropping a high ball, a wayward chip kick that went to Keith Earls and a missed tackle on Jacob Stockdale.

That was the highlight of a hard debut for the 19-year-old Bordeaux playmaker, who was forced to leave the pitch moments later after a large collision with the imposing frame of Ireland new boy Bundee Aki, which left both players on the deck. It was a big task for Belleau, winning only his third test cap after Matthieu Jalibert also limped away early, and the kick from about 35 meters on the left lacked confidence. I don't think there is any better place to be than in between Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw.

France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Chavancy, Vakatawa; Jalibert, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Gourdon.



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