TRY TIME: Ireland's Conor Murray on his way to scoring his side's try during the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France in Dublin.
TRY TIME: Ireland's Conor Murray on his way to scoring his side's try during the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France in Dublin. Brian Lawless

Sexton's boot helps Irish beat France

RUGBY UNION: Ireland has set up a possible Six Nations championship showdown with champions England after beating a tough France 19-9 in Dublin on Saturday.

The Irish lead the standings on 10 points, two ahead of the English, who play Italy overnight (AEST).

Irish coach Joe Schmidt said the men in green had the side's destiny in their own hands.

"But we're not thinking ... about the end of the championship yet," he said.

"We are really trying to stay really focused on the immediate challenge."

Ireland's next match in two weeks is against Wales, who lost to Scotland 29-13 earlier in the day.

Schmidt said Wales was unlucky to lose and the game in Cardiff would be really tough.

"We've now doubt that they will be disappointed with that [loss] and will be very determined when we get to Cardiff," he said.

France opened the scoring against a sloppy Ireland with two penalties from flyhalf Camille Lopez in the first 20 minutes.

Nine minutes later halfback Conor Murray darted over from a scrum move for a converted try.

Flyhalf Johnny Sexton, returning to the side after injuries, gave Ireland a 10-point lead with two penalties and a drop goal early in the second half.

Ireland held off intense pressure from the French in the last 20 minutes before conceding three points to a Lopez penalty in the 73rd minute.

Sexton's replacement Paddy Jackson then restored the lead to 10 points four minutes from time.

News Corp Australia

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