IRELAND COACH DECLAN KIDNEY defended Paddy Jackson for backing away from a drop goal attempt during his side’s 13-13 draw with France.
Ireland were leading 13-3 and were camped in the French half when Jackson dropped in the pocket and received a pass from scrum-half Conor Murray.
The Ulster outhalf quickly assessed his options before shipping the ball to Rob Kearney, who skewed a rushed attempt to the right and wide.
Apart from Keith Earls’ late dart for a loose ball in the righthand corner, it was to be the last scoring chance Ireland fashioned as France came back to snatch a point.
“I wouldn’t say he pulled out of it,” Kidney told TheScore.ie.
“I think what he did was the ball was extremely slippy, so by the time he got it, he felt they were on him.
A less experienced person, or somebody with less exposure, could try a nonsense type of drop goal, be blocked down or be caught in isolation. He had the wherewithal to know there was somebody in behind him.
“Obviously it was far from successful, the outcome, trying something. Just how slippy the ball was out there shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Murray confirmed that Jackson had called for the pass with a drop goal in mind and backed the decision as the right play.
He commented, “That was after that phase of play when we were deep in their 22 but dropped out of their 22 after a couple of phases.
It’s no surprise that you would go for a drop goal in that situation. Their linespeed was quite good, he probably thought he was going to be blocked down so he shifted it on to Kearney to have a go.
“These things happen. It would have been a good decision if it had’ve went over.
“We were retreating at the time. You don’t want to force the play and give them a penalty and have a pop.”
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Murray praised his halfback partner for the resilience he showed following criticism for a poor place-kicking game against Scotland on his debut.
The 21-year-old struck two long-range penalties and a conversion from a difficult angle after Jamie Heaslip’s try had opened the scoring against the French.
Murray told TheScore.ie, “He played for Ulster last week, did really well and got his place-kicking back to where it has been all year.
“He was striking it unbelievably out there and he knocked over a few crackers today. His game all-round was quite good.”