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Schmidt left to count injury toll after Ireland wilt.

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Joe Schmidt was last night suffering an injury headache after his Ireland side were left bruised and battered by the French.

Maxime Medard's late try and Jules Plisson's conversion saw Les Bleus make it two wins from two in this year's Six Nations.

Defending champions Ireland started the game boosted by the return of flanker Sean O'Brien and full-back Rob Kearney.

But they left the Stade de France licking their wounds with O'Brien and Dave Kearney forced off with shoulder and hamstring injuries respectively.

Mike McCarthy had to be stretchered off in a neck brace after a head collision.

And Jonathan Sexton, whose three penalties had proved scant reward for Ireland's early dominance, was replaced late on due to a neck problem.

Ireland captain Rory Best said: "At one stage we asked the referee how many attacking penalties are we going to get without further sanctions and he said he was keeping an eye on it.

"But there is a fine line between asking and badgering the referee."

Ireland wasted at least five promising try-scoring chances in a sloppy first half but still went in 9-3 up thanks to Sexton's boot.

First they lost a lineout in Les Bleus' 22 before Robbie Henshaw knocked on deep in French territory.

Rob Kearney was turned over at a ruck and then Jared Payne wasted a fine chance by refusing to set Andrew Trimble down the flank.

O'Brien was penalised for holding on before trudging out of the action then Ireland spilled the ball five metres from France's line.

Plisson struck France's sole penalty of the first half, failing with another attempt as well as a shanked drop goal effort.

But Guy Noves' men bludgeoned Ireland with four successive five-metre scrums after Damien Chouly was denied a try in a defining final quarter.

Once Les Bleus opted not to chase a pushover or penalty score, Medard cut a neat line off Plisson and scooted under the posts.

Plisson posted the conversion to leave Ireland struggling to retain their Six Nations crown.

CAPTION(S):

MAX-ED OUT Medard gos over to crushe Ireland's hopes

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Feb 14, 2016
Words:351
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