Ireland to seal Six Nations and send BOD out on a high

As the curtain comes down on another Six Nations campaign tomorrow, I’m backing Ireland to beat France and pick up their first title in 4 years.Brian O’Driscoll will be looking to repeat his 2000 heroics and sign off with another title.

If Joe Schmidt’s men beat France in Paris tomorrow evening and England beat Italy in Rome by less than 50 points, the title will be O’Driscoll and co’s. If the French beat Ireland, and England only beat Italy by one point, a 31 point win over Ireland would give France the title.

But with the Irish in good form and coming up against a disjointed French team who have looked poor for most of the tournament, I feel that they will have a little too much for the French.

Fresh from a 46-7 triumph over Italy last Saturday and boosted by the return of the outstanding Peter O’Mahony, Ireland will look to break a poor run in Paris, which has seen them triumph there only two times since 1972.

Their last win came there in 2000 when a young tyro by the name of Brian O’Driscoll bagged a hat-trick on a rare day of joy for the Irish in the French capital.

But this French side-heavily criticised in their national press after a string of performances, definitely aren’t a vintage French team. Bereft of a clear game plan,disjointed and lacking the usual fire up-front, Phillipe Saint-Andre’s men have only rarely shown glimpses of the class they possess, such as Gael Fickou’s beautifully worked last-minute try against England which helped them beat England.

But they will be boosted by the return of the influential Toulouse back rower Luis Picamoles, who was dropped for 3 matches after mockingly clapping referee Alain Rolland’s decision to yellow card him during France’s defeat to Wales in Cardiff 3 weeks ago. And with Castres fly-half Remi Tales replacing the ineffectual Jules Plisson at 10, the French backline should be a bit more threatening.

And if they can get quick ball into the hands of their dangerous back three of- Huget, Dulin and Medard, they can definitely ask big questions of the Irish defence.

But I’m tipping the Irish to win the breakdown battle through O’Mahony, do well at the scrum and get good, clean line-out ball to release their dangerous strike runners to do some damage. O’Driscoll was at his creative best last week-end and If he can repeat some of the magic of last week, he will give the French defence lots of problems. Expect Ireland to target the inexperienced but highly talented Gael Fickou at 12.

With the French pack having looked off the pace for most of the tournament and the Irish pack having been aggressive and physical, I think O’Connell and go will give the French 8 a tough afternoon. I expect big ball carriers like Heaslip and O’Connell to get the Irish over the gainline, and give his backs a good platform to have a crack at the French defence.

In order to wreck Ireland’s plans the French need to be more physical at the breakdown, carry with more intent, cut out the errors, secure more quick, clean ball and go through more phases. If they can do these things, they will be in with a real shout.

In a tight,tense match Ireland by 5-8 points thus giving BOD the perfect send-off.


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