Joe Schmidt talks us through that cracking Keith Earls try 2 weeks ago

Joe Schmidt talks us through that cracking Keith Earls try

On two occasions, Ireland threatened the rolling maul only to switch wide and puncture the French.

Ireland are well behind second-placed England for points difference but this really felt like a game where they could have clawed a chunk back on Eddie Jones' men.

England beat France 44-8 earlier in this Guinness Six Nations championship but Ireland looked well placed to surpass that when they led 26-0 after 58 minutes. Four tries had been run in and a whole raft of replacements came on.

At the final whistle, though, it was France celebrating a couple of consolation scores they scantly deserved.

The tighter finishing scoreline should not take away, though, from a dominant Ireland performance and two tries of the highest order that had Les Bleus in all sorts of bother.

First up - with his team's second score - was Johnny Sexton running that give-and-go loop that has done so much damage to so many teams over the years. Jordan Larmour and Garry Ringrose ran great dummy lines and set their markers, leaving Sexton free to canter over.

After the break, it got even sweeter. Ireland weathered an early storm and came back even harder. A lineout just inside the French 10-metre line saw Ireland set up for another maul, which had troubled France all day, but with the added wrinkle of Keith Earls' involvement.

Earls faked to catch then tracked back as the maul set up, only for Ireland to move the ball quick.

Bundee's dart

CJ Stander peeled off the back and Bundee Aki tried to draw some attention by darting up for the next pass, but the Ireland No.8 had no intention of that.

Look closely [below] and you will see Aki draw Yoann Huget up and away from covering inside his 22 with his early run. Had Aki not jumped the gun, Huget may have had time to snag Earls.

As it transpired, him pressing early got Huget out of the way and the gap was made. Earls had the acceleration and the try was scored.

Asked after Ireland's 26-14 victory if that was an old move or something that was given an update to outfox the French, Joe Schmidt said:

"[The move] was probably just designed around what we felt we could get today. We just felt that if we got a couple of good drives at them that they would have to commit people to the drive, and if we got out...

"It was really just, you know, if it was on, it was on. If it wasn't, then it wasn't and CJ could carry."

It was most definitely on, due to 10 Irish players getting their roles just right.

Earls, as he now has 30 times for his country, turned on the afterburners did the rest.

That score brings him level with Tommy Bowe in the all-time try-scoring charts, with only Brian O'Driscoll (on 46) ahead.