WINGER KEITH EARLS hit out at the match officials for not awarding his side a penalty or penalty try late in Ireland’s 13-13 draw with France at the Aviva Stadium.
With five minutes on the clock and the scores level, Earls raced down the right wing and looked set to pip two French players to the ball for a try.
France hooker Vincent Debaty intervened with a liberal use of his right shoulder and, despite a lunge from an off-balance Earls, Louis Picamoles slid in to touch down.
Referee Steve Walsh went to the Television Match Official and asked if he should award ’try, no try or foul play’. The incident was replayed several times on the big screen, something Ireland coach Declan Kidney was not happy with, before a 22 drop-out was awarded.
Speaking after the match, Earls told TheScore.ie, “In my eyes it was definitely a penalty. I haven’t seen it back to see whether it would have been a penalty try but he knocked me off my feet. He came across my line so, yes, I thought that was a bad decision.”
Asked whether he felt, opposed, he would have beaten Picamoles in a straight race for the ball, Earls replied, “In my eyes, I would have.” Expanding on the topic the Munster winger said:
He came across and it wasn’t even an elbow. He kind of used his elbow and forearm.
My eyes lit up [when I saw the kick]. It has been a while since I scored a try for Ireland, especially what could have been the winner against France.”
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre spoke at length about the Earls/Debaty coming together but erred on the side of caution.
He commented, “I have to look back at the replays. I haven’t seen everything that happened.”
In what may be his final game as Ireland coach at the Lansdowne Road venue, Kidney paid credit to his players for performing consistently and earnestly in the face of the worst injury crisis he has ever overseen in his career.
Eoin Reddan realises he is in trouble. (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
He told TheScore.ie, “We just get on with them. And just to get on with everything like that because they haven’t bitched or complained or moaned about anything.
Everything that has been thrown at them they have just kind of taken it. and to put your foot forward and to be creating what you are doing, that actually adds to the frustration.
“It is not like everything is steady going into it. That is why I would have to speak up for them.”
The most pressing injury concern is for Eoin Reddan, who fractured his leg above the ankle and is likely to be out of action for three months. His season with Leinster and Ireland is over.
Peter O’Mahony and Brian O’Driscoll have dead legs after suffering blows while Luke Marshall ‘took a thump to the head’ and is in danger of missing the final Six Nations match against Italy.
Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip summed up the evening when he said, “With the French, you don’t have to give them second chances.”