Joe Schmidt lauds Ireland's ability to stifle French challenge

France's centre Gael Fickou ) is tackled by Ireland's centre Bundee Aki

Ireland kept alive a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations title ahead of next weekend's final round of matches with a 26-14 win over France at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

"I am in a really lucky position at the minute that, the way I am feeling, I can go to the World Cup and be at the top of my game", Best added.

If they are to retain the Six Nations, Ireland must not only beat Wales but hope that England fail to defeat Scotland at Twickenham.

It was one they achieved courtesy of tries from Rory Best, Johnny Sexton, Jack Conan and Keith Earls.

Simply ending Wales' national record winning streak at 13 matches will go a long way to further boosting Irish confidence that was restored as soon as Best touched down in the corner.

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An emotional Joe Schmidt conceded he will miss being in the dugout at the Aviva Stadium after taking charge of Ireland in a home Six Nations match for the last time.

"When you're playing, you start to get fixated with what's coming, or if you're playing well in this Six Nations you put yourself in the window for the World Cup".

The 21-year-old, making just his third Test start, was assured from the kick-off running the ball back with intent before putting in an excellent grubber kick behind the defence which set up a line-out near the French line that ultimately led to Ireland's first try. The British & Irish Lion recently announced that he would move to London Irish after this autumn's World Cup.

France, who were punished for indiscipline in the first half, hit back with two tries in the final minute, to wing Yoann Huget and replacement hooker Camille Chat, the latter confirmed by New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe after calling for a video replay.

"I think it's taken a while but there was a bit of our rhythm back today", said Schmidt.

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