Murray stars as Ireland grind...

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Murray stars as Ireland grind out crucial French win

TodayFM
TodayFM

8:04 PM - 25 Feb 2017



Johnny Sexton is back, Ireland are still on course for a potential championship decider against England, and Conor Murray is playing his rugby on another level.

Ireland atoned for last year's defeat to France in Paris this evening, grinding out a 19-9 win at the Aviva Stadium. The Grand Slam may be gone but it's a result that keeps their championship hopes alive, with Wales and England left to come. The losing bonus point against Scotland may yet have a big say on the destination of the trophy.

Joe Schmidt's side had to survive a slow start against France, before making their mark in the middle third of the game.

After Camille Lopez kicked France into a 3-0 lead, it briefly looked like they had crossed for the game's first try. Remi Lamerat's score was chalked off after Gael Fickou's slight knock-on in the build up. It was a major let-off.

Slowly though, Ireland started to cut out the errors and go through the phases, and after sorting out their scrum, the set up the platform for Conor Murray to dive over from close range.

It was a fully deserved score for the Munster scrum half, who hammered home his Lions credentials by winning the CJ Stander Man of the Match Award. Murray has it all at the moment; passing, kicking, physicality, skill. He's arguably Ireland's most important player.

The second half was about grinding it out, and taking the chances.

Sexton added a penalty to his conversion shortly after the break, before this drop-goal bomb saw the Aviva Stadium erupt.

It may only have been worth three points, but it felt like defining moment in the game. Both the players and the fans were given a jolt of energy, and when another Sexton penalty extended the lead to 10 points, the result never seemed in doubt.

Lopez and Paddy Jackson traded three-pointers from the tee late on, as Ireland saw out a 19-9 victory which puts them top of the table. However England will be expected to leapfrog them tomorrow when they welcome Italy to Twickenham.

And while the Six Nations title remains within their grasp, it's a win that strengthens their position in the top four of the world rankings, which will prove vital when the World Cup draw is made in May.



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