Fairytale ending for O'Driscoll

  • Last Updated: March 15 2014, 21:36 GMT

Johnny Sexton's two tries helped Brian O'Driscoll complete the fairytale ending to his international career as Ireland claimed the RBS 6 Nations title by edging out France 22-20 in Paris.

Ireland celebrate their Six Nations success
Ireland celebrate their Six Nations success

Sexton ran in two tries, missed five points with the boot and was knocked out cold trying to tackle wrecking ball centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Ireland rebuffed a late French onslaught to claim their first Six Nations title since 2009 and just a second win in 42 years in Paris, with wing Andrew Trimble also on the scoresheet.

O'Driscoll capped his 14st and final international appearance with just a second career Six Nations title, the storybook ending so craved by the Irish nation.

To his stunning Paris hat-trick in 2000, now O'Driscoll can add a stubborn, brutal refusal to be cowed.

After 15 glittering years on the world stage, the Leinster stalwart and Ireland icon can finally hang up his international boots a happy man.

Maxime Machenaud slotted two penalty goals to nudge France into the early lead, Bastareaud blasting through the visiting backline on three occasions.

Chris Henry's cute offload outfoxed the home defence after smart build-up play, and Sexton caught sight of the half-gap to cut back inside and over the whitewash.

Ireland quickly doubled their try count as Conor Murray blasted through a gap and sent Trimble under the sticks.

Big, lumbering forwards love a rolling maul though, and after a textbook drive, Remi Tales chipped to the wing, Yoann Huget tapped inside at full leap and Brice Dulin had the easy run home.

Machenaud's expert touchline conversion wrestled France a 13-12 lead.

Sexton quickly scotched the five missed points from his, and Ireland's minds, though racing in for his second and his side's third try of the night.

When Huget failed to hold Bastareaud's pass, it was Ireland launching the counter, through that man Rob Kearney.

Trimble cut away down the right, feeding O'Driscoll, who had the presence of mind to recycle deep in the France 22.

O'Connell carried on, and Murray sent Sexton under the posts.

In one blitzkrieg swoop, suddenly Ireland were once again sure of themselves.

Ireland bullied France with their textbook maul, winning a penalty for Sexton to shoot at goal.

This time there was to be no mistake, the 28-year-old firing home with assurance renewed thanks to try number two, to put Ireland 22-13 to the good.

France battered Ireland's final defences time and again as the hosts launched a sustained assault after a penalty line-out in the 22.

O'Connell conceded a penalty on the try-line, and France again punted for the line-out rather than shoot at goal.

Bastareaud thundered into midfield, Louis Picamoles drove to the right-hand post, and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski bundled in.

Referee Steve Walsh awarded the try, but replays suggested the Racing Metro hooker fumbled in the act of scoring.

Machenaud landed the conversion, to cut Ireland's lead to just two points.

Damien Chouly thought he had stolen the game when he nipped into the right corner, but Vincent Debaty's pass was rightly ruled forward.

France stole Ireland's scrum, only for the visitors to win a turnover at the ruck, and spark jubilant celebrations at the final whistle.

O'Driscoll expressed his joy after ending his international career by helping Ireland to glory.

"It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner. It's great to finish on a high in my last game in this magnificent jersey," the 35-year-old centre told BBC1.

"When I do hang it up on the hook inside, it'll be with very fond memories."

"I'm absolutely delighted. There's a huge Irish contingent here. I'm glad we gave them something to shout about.

"It was last-leg stuff and I know now why I'm packing it in because 80 minutes is a long bloody time at international level, particularly with guys like Mathieu Bastereaud running at you - it's no fun."

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was delighted he and his team could give O'Driscoll the perfect send-off.

"It's fantastic for Ireland, for the people back home but also for Brian and his family," he said after leading Ireland to just a second win in 42 years in Paris.

"To be part of the team that laid the platform for him to have a great finish to his career is great for everyone involved."

France coach Phillipe Saint-Andre admitted his devastation after watching his side fall short.

"Sometimes it's better to win ugly than to have lost like this," he said.

"Congratulations to Ireland, they played well but I think our young team did very well. If we had a little bit more of the control we should have won."

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