Ireland keep title hopes alive after demolishing France

Ireland have finally found some Six Nations form, hammering France with a 26-14 scoreline that flattered the losers to keep their slim chance of back-to-back titles alive.

After misfiring in an opening loss to England, and stuttering wins over Italy and Scotland, the defending champions completely overwhelmed the French, with tries from Rory Best, Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan opening up a 19-0 halftime lead.   

The bonus point was secured just before the hour, when Keith Earls's 30th international try made him Ireland's joint second-highest tryscorer.

The winning margin would likely have been a record over France, were it not for late tries from Yoann Huget and Camille Chat.   

Ireland can upset Wales's Grand Slam hopes and overtake the Six Nations leaders with a win in Cardiff next Sunday (NZ time), but would also need Scotland to beat England at Twickenham for the first time in 36 years to retain the championship.