'The competition is slightly in France's favour'
REACTION: France coach Fabien Galthie said he is not thinking about winning the Six Nations despite Saturday’s impressive 30-24 victory over Ireland.
Les Bleus went three points clear at the top of the table after backing up last weekend’s success over Italy.
They next face Scotland in Edinburgh on February 26, a city where they’ve won just once since 2014.
“Firstly we want to take time and enjoy this victory,” Galthie told reporters.
“We have a little break of two weeks before going to Scotland.
“We appreciated the victory over Italy, but this one does a lot of good for us, the players and rewards their and the coaches’ efforts,” he added.
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said France are now the leading contenders for tournament, which they last won in 2010.
“The competition is slightly in France’s favour,” said Farrell.
“The competition’s just getting going. We’ll lick our wounds from a fighting, spirited performance and learn the lessons.”
The fixture had been a sell-out since last November and the atmosphere in Paris was taken up a notch pre-match with tricolour flags handed out amongst the 79,115 fans in the crowd.
Ireland were without captain Johnny Sexton due to a hamstring strain with the 36-year-old replaced by Joey Carbery, making his maiden Six Nations start after coming off the bench in last weekend’s victory over Wales.
Galthie handed a first run-on appearance to 21-year-old centre Yoram Moefana, replacing Jonathan Danty with the La Rochelle midfielder sustaining an ankle issue in last Sunday’s win over Italy.
The raucous atmosphere in the stands was replicated on the field as the hosts led after just 80 seconds when home captain Dupont slid over after a break from his halfback partner Romain Ntamack.
Fullback Melvyn Jaminet kicked a penalty to make it 10-0 inside three minutes.
The away crowd had something to cheer seconds later as Mack Hansen, who made his debut last weekend, caught Carbery’s restart to cross with Jaminet and winger Damian Penaud caught flat-footed.
France controlled the rest of the half as Jaminet slotted three penalties with ease to make it 19-7, with Ireland pinned eight times by referee Angus Gardner during the first half, compared to not even once last Saturday in Dublin.
Jaminet extended his side’s lead three minutes after the break with a shot at goal to make it 22-7 before Andy Farrell’s visitors showed their promise from last weekend with two quick-fire scores.
Firstly flanker Josh van der Flier snuck over from a rolling maul before scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park dummied from a ruck to cross.
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Carbery’s simple conversion made it 22-21 to set up a scintillating final half an hour.
Les Bleus, hosts for next year’s Rugby World Cup, responded with vigour five minutes later with prop Baille crashing over from short-range after a Dupont pass for just his second try in 33 Tests to make it 27-21.
World player of the year Dupont was tactically replaced with 10 minutes left for Maxime Lucu before lock Ryan, standing in for Sexton as skipper, signalled Carbery to kick for the sticks instead of the corner.
The Munster flyhalf slotted the penalty to make it a three-point game with less than seven minutes to play.
Galthie’s men pushed on into Ireland’s 22 with one-pass phases before Jaminet capped off a superb personal and collective performance with a simple three-pointer to put a marker down for the title, last won 12 years ago.