Ireland hero Sexton relieved to avoid more Paris pain

Jonathan Sexton said Ireland's character prevented them from experiencing deja vu in Paris after his last-gasp drop-goal snatched a 15-13 Six Nations win over France.

Ireland looked untroubled at the Stade de France until Teddy Thomas conjured up a moment of magic to score the only try of the match with nine minutes remaining, Anthony Belleau converting to put Les Bleus in front for the first time.

Joe Schmidt's men had led for much of an attritional contest on the opening day of the tournament courtesy of four Sexton penalties and the fly-half held his nerve to win it with the last kick of the game from around 40 yards out.

Sexton was forced off after taking a big hit when Ireland lost in the French capital two years ago following a late Maxime Medard try. On this occasion, he was relieved to avoid more Paris pain after ruining Jacques Brunel's first game as Les Bleus head coach.

"All our goals would've crumbled if we'd lost." the British and Irish Lion told the BBC.

"To be honest, my mind was going back to a couple of years ago in a game against Treviso, in almost an identical situation.

"I don't think we could've gone on another couple of phases, but we got there in the end.

"It says a lot about the management and that we've got some good characters in the team because it looked like it might be deja vu. This year we had a chance and we took it, thankfully."

Maxime Machenaud had kept France in touch with a penalty in each half, but Belleau missed a chance to put the hosts 16-12 up before Sexton gave Ireland an eighth consecutive win - and just a fourth over France in Paris in half a century.

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