Six Nations showdown looms at Aviva 

Conor Murray was in rare form for Ireland in Cardiff last Saturday.

ANDY Farrell’s Ireland will aim to take a decisive grip on the Six Nations Championship with victory over France in an eagerly awaited encounter at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday next (kick-off 2.15pm). 

All three meetings with France during the head coach’s reign have ended in defeat.

It’s four years now since the last Irish victory against Les Bleus, a 26-14 championship success in Dublin. 

This weekend’s fascinating clash between the pair has long been billed as a Grand Slam decider but Scotland are likely to have a say following-on from their stunning defeat of England.

Holders France won last season’s corresponding fixture in Paris.

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Recalled Farrell: “I thought we didn’t attack the game like I know we can do in the first 15-20 minutes of the game. We got ourselves back into the game and had a chance of winning, so being ourselves from the start would help.”

For now, Farrell is happy with similar preparations to that which ended with a solid win over Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday. 

“Being ourselves is the main thing, I think. Just playing our game,” he stressed. 

In Cardiff, Munster’s Conor Murray, a late replacement for the injured Jamison Gibson-Park, rolled back the years with a vintage display.

“It’s about keeping faith in your own game and backing yourself and then when you get the chance, taking it,” he told Virgin Media.

“When we got into camp I tried to train as well as I could and commit myself fully, and it worked out today, thank God.

“2013 was the last time I was here and we won. That’s a long time ago, so we know exactly how hard it is to come here, the crowd when Wales get up and running and how difficult that is to stop”.

It was a remarkable 101st international appearance by a still lively Murray, who turns 34 in April. 

Ireland have been made slight favourites for Saturday’s game.Later in the evening, Scotland host Wales and on Sunday Italy are in England.