France got their World Cup warm up schedule off to a winning start on Saturday, beating Ireland 19-12 in Bordeaux.
France got their World Cup warm up schedule off to a winning start on Saturday, beating Ireland 19-12 at Stade Chaban Delmas in Bordeaux.
France raced to a deserved 13-0 lead by the half-hour mark as they dominated every facet of play.
But the home side's indiscipline allowed the Irish to claw their way back into contention as four Ronan O'Gara penalties narrowed the gap to a single point at the start of the final quarter.
Wing Vincent Clerc scored the only try of the night for Les Bleus – his ninth in nine games against Ireland – while Dimitri Yachvili was flawless from the kicking tee, landing all five of his attempts at goal.
Anyone who stopped watching at half time would have been amazed by the final scoreline, such was the French dominance in the first period.
Fluid on attack and accurate up front, Marc LiÃ¨vremont's team looked like World Cup contenders for 35 minutes but were unable to maintain that momentum after the break.
Two Yachvili penalties in the final quarter steadied the ship but the French coach will be somewhat worried by yet another inconsistent display.
O'Gara's kicking both out of hand and from the tee was one of the few highlights of the Irish performance, though they did improve as the game progressed, gaining confidence as they chipped away at the French lead.
It was one-way traffic early on. Yachvili opened the scoring with his first three pointer after just three minutes. Les Bleus had the visiting defence scrambling frantically as they failed to prevent winger Alexis Palisson brilliantly slipping the ball out of a tackle to Clerc – who raced over.
Number eight Imanol Harinordoquy was charging around the park and Ireland looked set for a long night when Yachvili landed his second penalty to put France 13-0 ahead.
O'Gara slotted a penalty to end a torrid half for the visitors, turning the tide somewhat in the process.
The replacements benches came into play relatively early, resulting in France becoming increasingly ragged.
Two more O'Gara penalties followed and once more it was one-way traffic but this time Ireland were in the driving seat.
Yachvili gave France some breathing space with a pair of penalties as they sparked back into life after an unconvincing 30 minutes.
The hosts almost threw victory away though when Julien Bonnaire's suicide pass behind his own tryline was knocked on by David Skrela. But the big French pack came to the rescue, winning the penalty at the ensuing 5m scrum.
France will travel to Ireland next weekend for the rematch in Dublin.
Pens: Yachvili 4
Pens: O'Gara 4
France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 FranÃ§ois Trinh-Duc, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 RaphaÃ«l Lakafia, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romian Millo-Chluski, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Sylvain Marconnet
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Lionel Nallet, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Morgan Parra, 21 David Skrela, 22 Maxime MÃ©dard, 23 Fabien Barcella.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Donncha Ryan, 5 Leo Cullen (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Jerry Flannery, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Paul O'Connell, 19 Jamie Heaslip, 20 Conor Murray, 20 Fergus McFadden, 22 Felix Jones.
Venue: Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)