France kept their Six Nations title defence hopes alive on Sunday after winning a hotly-contested clash with Ireland 25-22 in Dublin.
France managed to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive on Sunday after winning a hotly-contested clash with Ireland 25-22 at Aviva Stadium.
Ireland gave a massively improved performance than the one that saw Italy come so close to causing the upset in the championship's history.
But their efforts were not enough to overcome a les Bleus outfit who will be relieved to escape Dublin with two points that puts them joint-top.
The classy visitors had gone in 15-12 down at the interval after Leinster winger Fergus McFadden and Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary had crossed the whitewash, with France maestro Morgan Parra on target with four penalty goals.
However, a well-taken Maxime MÃ©dard try on 55 minutes was the catalyst of a French revival in the second-half as their bench proved too strong.
Ireland supporters will be cursing their luck though in the aftermath of this one as they blew an opportunity to score what would've been a match-winning try in the 79th minute, but replacement hooker Sean Cronin knocked-on at the vital time.
The underdog hosts in fact looked superior in flashes, but were undone by their ill-discipline as six penalties saw Marc Lievremont's charges edge the battle on a brisk afternoon.
Ireland began at great pace and were rewarded with a fifth-minute try when McFadden muscled his way over from close-range with his leg drive stunning France's ruck guards.
However, the assured boot of Parra replied quickly for the visitors and he went on to land three further before the interval while O'Leary answered some of his critics with another strong finish fifteen in from the left touchline. An out-of-sorts Sexton missed the extras.
Following the break another Parra penalty drew the French level before the stadium fell silent on the hour when Aurelien Rougerie shrugged off Gordon D'Arcy to send Medard in.
A sixth French penalty – this time from replacement number nine Dimitri Yachvili – piled on the misery and although returning number eight Jamie Heaslip dived over in the corner to make it a three-point game, Cronin spilt the chance of a winning try at the death.
Tries: McFadden, O'Leary, Heaslip
Con: Sexton, O'Gara
Pen: Parra 5, Yachvili
Ireland: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (capt), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Cullen, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Paddy Wallace.
France: 15 ClÃ©ment Poitrenaud, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 AurÃ©lien Rougerie, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Maxime MÃ©dard, 10 FranÃ§ois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Sylvain Marconnet, 18 Jerome Thion, 19 SÃ©bastien Chabal, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Yannick Jauzion, 22 Vincent Clerc.
Referee: Dave Pearson
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), David Changleng (Scotland)
Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)