France search for finesse


PARIS, February 9- Coach Marc Lievremont says that France will have to finesse their killer instinct if they are to shatter Irish dreams of repeating their Six Nations Grand Slam feat of last year when they clash here on Saturday.The 41-year-old former international backrow forward – who was part of the France team that reached the 1999 World Cup final – saw his side beat Scotland 18-9 in their opening match on Sunday. But on Monday he was crystal clear he was disappointed that the margin had not been bigger due to facile mistakes when a try looked certain.

He said he would be seeking a big improvement on that during training this week.

"It is true that we were disappointed," said Lievremont, referring to the final result.

"I believe we were in their (the Scots) half for 60-65 percent of the match, and had 55 percent possession.

"We failed to kill the match. It is imperative that we do better, especially as Ireland have more weapons than the Scots.

"We know that with the left foot of (Rob) Kearney, (Ronan) O’Gara’s vision in directing play and similarly (Brian) O’Driscoll’s, not to mention their superb scrum, they will pose us many problems."

Imanol Harinordoquy, France’s outstanding backrow forward against the Scots, agreed with the coach.

"The positive for us against Scotland was our defence," said the 29-year-old, who put in two crucial tackles that halted seemingly certain Scotland scores.

"However, the negative was our ability to finish off promising moves. We should have scored two more tries at least. We have to be more patient and not rush things," added the Biarritz star.

Lievremont, who is seeking his first Six Nations title on his third try, said that with just six days as opposed to the seven that Ireland had – they beat Italy 29-11 on Saturday – he would give his troops a relatively light week in the physical sense.

"Yup, light training sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," said the former Dax coach, who was the surprise choice to replace Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup.

"However, we will be doing a lot of gym work and also studying intensely videos of the Irish."

Lievremont, though, believes that having watched Ireland’s match with Italy that they too are not the complete article – something Declan Kidney his Irish counterpart and IRB coach of the year for 2009 after guiding them undefeated through 10 matches would concur with after an ineffective second-half performance against a lacklustre and unimaginative Italian side.

"I didn’t get the feeling having watched the Irish match that Ireland felt satisfied and fulfilled after the game," said Lievremont.

"Not everything went perfectly for them either."

Harinordoquy, who more than put to rest the snide nickname given to him by his critics of ‘Very ordinary’, admitted that the outstanding scrum display, former captain Lionel Nallet was not far behind him in the man of the match stakes, could have taken its toll and they needed to recuperate fast to face their fearsome Irish opponents.

"We have got to recuperate because we put in a massive physical performance against the Scots," said the two-time World Cup semi-finalist.

"Especially as we are up against the Irish, who play a very pragmatic style of rugby."