No Grand Slam for the A team


A INTERNATIONAL:  Once again La Roche sur Yon proved an unhappy hunting ground for an Ireland rugby team, this time it was the A side whose chances of a Grand Slam were dashed.

France A 30. . .Ireland A 20: Ireland could ill afford a slow start to the match but that is exactly what they endured, trailing 17-3 after just 18 minutes. A penalty from fullback Teulet after four minutes was followed by a try from centre Jauzion, the latter the product of a well worked switch in midfield after France had taken a quick tap from a penalty. Teulet converted.

Ireland finally established their first foothold in French territory in the 10th minute and forced the concession of a penalty from a lineout driven towards the French line. Barry Everitt posted the penalty but the score came at a cost as number eight Victor Costello was forced to leave the field through injury. The initial prognosis was that he had broken a small bone in his back but that will have to be confirmed by an X-ray today.

Johnny O'Connor replaced him with Tony McWhirter switching to number eight from blindside flanker. The Irish fell further adrift when after pinching an Irish lineout, French second row Couzinet was driven over close to the posts. Teulet added the extra points to make it 17-3.

Thereafter Ireland enjoyed something of a purple patch with Everitt kicking three penalties from four opportunities to reduce the deficit to 17-12. Teulet posted another penalty, Everitt responded in kind but the London Irish outhalf missed with two further chances, the second of which could reasonably have been a penalty try instead.

Fullback Paddy Wallace was impeded by a French player coming back on side, coincidentally as Ireland had a two-on-one overlap inside the French 22.

A wonderful individual try from French wing Elhorga on 67 minutes effectively decided the contest. He received possession on his own 10 metre line, chipped over Anthony Horgan's head, then twice controlling the ball with his feet as he hacked over the line and pounced. Teulet's conversion and a subsequent penalty on 75 minutes nudged France to a 30-15 lead.

Ireland kept battling and were rewarded two minutes into injury time with a try from Mike Mullins which could not be improved upon. Ireland may not have won the Grand Slam but they did clinch the A championship.

Scoring sequence: 4 mins: Teulet penalty, 3-0; 6: Jauzion try, Teulet conversion, 10-0; 10: Everitt penalty, 10-3; 18: Couzinet try, Teulet conversion, 17-3; 21: Everitt penalty, 17-6; 40: Everitt penalty, 17-9. Half-time: 17-9; 43: Everitt penalty, 17-12; 46: Teulet penalty, 20-12; 49: Everitt penalty, 20-15; 67: Elhorga try, Teulet conversion, 27-15; 75: Teulet penalty, 30-15; 82: Mullins try, 30-20.

FRANCE A: R Teulet, P Elhorga, L Valbon, Y Jauzion, G Moro; A Péclier , A Albouy; A Tolofua, S Bruno, A Galasso; J Thion, D Couzinet; B Goutta, E Vermeulen (capt), S Chabal. Replacements: A Gaubert, Y Lacrouts, J Dieudé, L Loustau , J-B Elissalde, R Chanal.

IRELAND A: P Wallace (Ulster); G D'Arcy (Leinster), M Mullins (Munster), J Holland (Munster), A Horgan (Munster); B Everitt (London Irish), N Doak (Ulster); R Corrigan (Leinster, capt), F Sheahan (Munster), S Best (Ulster); L Cullen (Leinster), R Casey (Leinster); T McWhirter (Ulster), V Costello (Leinster), A Ward (Ulster). Replacements: J O'Connor (Connacht) for Costello (10 mins); B O'Meara (Leinster) for Doak (55); J Bishop (London Irish) for D'Arcy (57); M Horan (Munster) for Best (63); M O'Driscoll (Munster) for Cullen (70); J Staunton (Munster) for Everitt (70)