Under-20s Six Nations: France 31-37 Ireland - Visitors off to winning start

Ireland's Hugh Gavin is tackled by France's Mathis Castro

Under-20s Six Nations

France (14) 31

Tries: Castro-Ferreira 2, Tuifua, Perrin Cons: Raffy 4 Pen: Raffy

Ireland (17) 37

Tries: Sheahan, Gleeson, Gavin, Treacy Cons: Murphy 4 Pens: Murphy 3

Ireland avenged their defeat in last year's World Championship final with a bonus-point 37-31 win over France in the U20s Six Nations game in Provence.

First-half tries from Danny Sheahan and Brian Gleeson put Richie Murphy's side ahead at the break, before Hugh Gavin and Finn Treacy touched down in the second-half to secure a memorable win.

France scored four tries of their own, captain Mathis Castro-Ferreira with two, while Patrick Tuifua and Mael Perrin scored after the break to ensure two losing bonus points.

The visitors got off to the perfect start with only four minutes on the clock, Sheahan powering over from close range after his side won a line-out five metres out, Jack Murphy adding the extras.

Minutes later, the hosts were on level terms.

A melee off the ball on halfway seemed to stir on the home forwards, and it was Castro-Ferreira who drove over after several punishing phases close to the Irish line. Tom Raffy made no mistake from the tee.

If the French thought their score would send Ireland into retreat they were mistaken.

After an Evan O'Connell try was chalked off for being short of the line, the visitors continued their pick-and-go approach close to the hosts' line and number eight Gleeson smashed his way over. Murphy again added the extra two points.

The see-saw script continued four minutes from the break with skipper Castro-Ferreira again barging over after the hosts secured a penalty in the left-hand corner.

Raffy nailed a superb kick to convert and level the game once more, before Murphy grabbed a penalty kick in the dying seconds to send the Irish in ahead at half-time.

The French started the second period with real intent and got their noses back in front seven minutes in. Tuifua jinked his way through before driving over and Raffy's conversion split the posts.

Just minutes later however, Ireland were back with another score in this dogfight of a match. Just after winger Gregoire Arfeuil saw yellow, the impressive Gavin skipped through after some great set-up work from the forwards. Murphy maintained his 100% record from the tee with the extras.

With 12 minutes remaining, Ireland secured a bonus point with a Treacy touchdown from a kick through, after a French fumble in midfield. Murphy yet again stepped up to convert.

France somehow kept the pressure on, and in an epic encounter levelled proceedings through substitute Perrin, crashing through despite the interest of four Irish defenders, to claim the bonus point for the home side. Raffy grabbed another two-pointer from the tee.

With the game on a knife edge at 31-31, Murphy stepped up to fire over a pair of penalties in the last five minutes to win it for the Irish and maintain their hopes of a record three in-a-row Grand Slam.

France U20: Ferte; Arfeuil, Taccola, Desperes, Bosmorin; Raffy, Carbonneau; Julien, Massa, Aouad; Gambini, Mezou; Zinzen, Tuifua, Castro-Ferreira (c)

Replacements: Couly, Ametlla, Duchene, Corso, Perrin, Quere Karaba, Nene, Biasotto

Ireland U20: O'Connor; Treacy, De Klerk, Gavin, McLaughlin; J Murphy, Coffey; Usanov, Sheahan, Andrew Spicer; Alan Spicer, O'Connell (c); Hopes, Ward, Gleeson

Replacements: Walker, Howard, Boyd, Corrigan, L Murphy, Brophy, Naughton, Graham.

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