France 17-17 Ireland, Six Nations
Heaslip frustrated by Paris draw
ESPNscrum Staff
March 5, 2012
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip watches a kick sail over, France v Ireland, Six Nations, Stade de France, Paris, France, March 4, 2012
Jamie Heaslip was left frustrated by his side's draw with France in Paris © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: France | Ireland

Ireland No.8 Jamie Heaslip believes his side missed a great opportunity to score a rare victory over France in Paris on Sunday.

France battled back from an 11-point deficit at half-time to claim a 17-all draw at the Stade de France and deny Ireland what would have been only their second win in the French capital for 40 years. The result keeps France's title hopes alive although the Grand Slam is now beyond them - only Wales can claim the ultimate prize - while Ireland's challenge is all but over.

"I was interviewed by the BBC after the game and they said 'You must be happy with that result', but it's a pretty hard pill to swallow," Heaslip said. "We came here to win and outscored France two tries to one, so to draw is a mixed bag. It's frustrating.

"We were confident at half-time. We'll look at the penalties, some of them we might agree with, some of them we might not. The self-belief was there, it's always there. We don't doubt ourselves."

The brilliant Tommy Bowe, who crossed for two tries, added his voice to the chorus of disappointment by insisting the stalemate had taken the gloss off his clinical finishing. The Osprey raised his strike rate to 24 tries in 47 Test appearances after crossing twice in the first half, the second a glorious solo effort.

"I'm delighted to score against France, tries against them aren't easy to come by so to get over twice in one day is very satisfying," the 28-year-old said. "But of course you would hope to get a victory out of it, but unfortunately we didn't. In the second half I barely touched the ball which is a huge disappointment. It's bitter-sweet."

The outlook on scrum-half Conor Murray, who was carried off on a stretcher in the second half with a knee injury, was positive with early indications suggesting a hyper-extension rather than ligament damage. Ireland must now pick themselves up as quickly as possible due to their six-day turnaround before Saturday's clash with Scotland at Aviva Stadium.

"There's certainly a big feeling of defeat and an opportunity lost," captain Paul O'Connell said. "We're very frustrated and very disappointed."

Reflecting on the result and his side's mixed fortunes in this year's Championship, coach Declan Kidney commented, "We've been in two close ones now and one's gone against us and the other feels like kissing your sister! We needed the lion's share of possession and we didn't get it."

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