Coming in to week 4 of the tournament this should be a critical game in deciding who is going to win the championship. Instead we have the battle of who can finish above Italy. France have now lost their first 3 and Ireland after promising so much have succumbed to injuries to key players.
France boast a great record over Ireland with just 1 loss in their last 13 and with the Irish forced into changes that run may extend. France though have the Michelak enigma to deal with. St Andre seems adamant poor performances won’t change his mind over him to drop Freddie after his 3 man of the matches in the Autumn internationals, however he has given us 3 horror shows in the 6 nations and handed both England and Wales the games. It seems strange again that Michelak will start with Trinh-Duc, who never really put a foot wrong v England consigned to the bench. They have at least got their strongest threat in the correct position now with Fofana at inside centre.
Ireland have had more than enough injuries to deal with and it is starting to tell with last weeks try scorer Gilroy also now missing from a threadbare looking backline. This showed v Scotland with some amazing stats of meters gained 310 v 122, carries of 44-9, passes 137 – 32 and 7 offloads to 1 but still not being able to break a stubborn Scottish defence down and ultimately losing. O Gara has now been left out as Ireland look to rebuild and the inexperienced Paddy Jackson, who missed 3 crucial kicks retains his spot with Ian Madigan filling the bench spot.
France surely can’t go 4 straight with out a win and did show real glimpses of the powerful French of old v a good England side, while Ireland struggled to make their dominance pay. France by 5-10
Last 3 in Dublin
Ireland 22-25 France
Ireland 30-21 France
Ireland 17-20 France