France vs. Ireland: Score, Video Highlights and Reaction for Six Nations 2014

Dan Brett@@DanBrett90Contributor IIIMarch 15, 2014

Associated Press

Ireland won the Six Nations title on Saturday after a 22-20 victory over France at the Stade de France.

Les Blues had a chance to deny Ireland the title with a win in Paris, but Brian O'Driscoll capped his final Test appearance for the Irish with a title win.

Two tries and two conversions from Jonathan Sexton helped the visitors to their second Six Nations win, but the Racing Metro star had to be stretchered off after an awkward landing.

With it all to play for among the top three, English pubs would have gone wild as Maxime Machenaud arrowed his kick against the left-hand post to give the three-point lead.

It wasn't long until the hosts' lead was doubled as, after just 15 minutes, Machenaud secured his second kick of the match as the scrum-half placed his presence well within the event.

But Ireland, sitting pretty at the top of the league, got into the swing of things on 21 minutes as Jonathan Sexton scored the game's first try, but fails to live up to previous form with the boot as he misses his conversion.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15:  Maxime Machenaud   of France kicks a penalty kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Just five minutes later and Ireland had sailed into the lead after Andrew Trimble touched down for Sexton to make amends with his second kick—duly dispatched to make a 12-5 lead.

An end-to-end affair was on the cards though as Brice Dulin's try was awarded, with Machenaud making it three kicks from three to put France back into a one-point lead once again.

Ireland took back their advantage early in the second half. Sexton touched down for a second time and very nearly missed his second kick but crept in—just—to make it 19-13 for Ireland.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15:  Ireland fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Sexton, given plenty of chances from dead-ball situations, stroked a penalty between the sticks on 52 minutes to signal an excellent start to the second half.

Ireland took 62 percent of second half possession up to the hour mark, according to BBC Sport's live coverage, as the visitors started to believe that their second Six Nations title was on the brink of coming to fruition.

France then pegged a try back as Dimitri Szarzewski touched down—and got a nasty gash to the face for his troubles—leading to Machenaud sealing another kick to bring the hosts back within two points of causing an upset.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15:  Brice Dulin of France score a try for France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

A real moment of worry for Ireland as Mathieu Bastareaud clattered Sexton and left him needing to be stretchered from the field and having to be replaced by Ian Madigan with 10 to go.

France took an excellent chance to win the match with a late try, only for the side to be penalised for a forward pass and Ireland's 22-20 lead.

There was support for Ireland from all areas, and sports, as the full-time whistle blew, as former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given tweeted:

BBC Sport's Dan Walker tweeted of his disappointment of England's failure to clinch the trophy but praised the exiting Irishman:

Speaking at a press conference after the victory, Ireland captain Paul O'Connell spoke of how his side rode their luck with the forward-pass call at the death, but he saluted the team's milestone man in his final Test, according to Telegraph's Oliver Pickup:

It was frustrating, as we scored three tries and were playing good rugby. We then went in to ourselves. We were lucky with the forward pass call at the end. Sometimes they go against you. We are delighted for Brian and his family, and all the people in Ireland.

Soon after, O'Driscoll spoke of the last time that he will don the green of his nation and recognises his two-title achievement:

It feels great to be a two-times Six Nations winner. It is great to finish on a high. And when I hang the jersey on the hook I will do so with fond memories.

I'm delighted and I'm glad we gave the big Irish contingent here in Paris a good show. But 80 minutes is a long time for me, especially when you have Mathieu Bastareaud running at you.

A big win for Ireland in the Six Nations as Joe Schmidt's men highlighted their dominance in the tournament, giving great confidence for future games.

A mixed competition for France, though, who know that just one point against Wales would have given them a real chance of winning the tournament.

But for both countries, there are positives going into next year's World Cup, as both outfits showed their fight-to-the-death spirit at the Stade de France.

Given the hosts' endeavour in this match, too, you would put them in good stead to mount a serious challenge in next year's Six Nations.