A spirited Ireland performance was not enough as France powered to victory with a dynamic second half performance.

Hugh O’Sullivan scored on the stroke of half time to give Ireland a deserved 17-5 lead but three tries second half French tries wiped the lead out. A late Harry Byrne try to bring the scores to within two points unfortunately was a consolation.

The tournament hosts took an early lead through Maxime Marty. Hugh O’Sullivan was charged down and after a penalty was taken quickly, the winger dived in at the corner. UCD’s Harry Byrne slotted a penalty on his second attempt to narrow the deficit to two points with 17 minutes played.

Ireland struggled to get inside the France 22 in the opening quarter of the game but excellent forward play saw Joe Dunleavy cross for Ireland’s first score. A lineout just outside the French 22 was gathered and rumbled 15 metres before ball was transferred to the backs. Strong carries from Matthew Dalton, Caelan Doris and Matthew Agnew saw Noel McNamara’s side inch closer with Dunleavy supplying the final push.

A try saving tackle from Michael Silvester prevented Maxime Marty from a second try while Clement Laporte broke the defensive line but could not find Marty in a one on one with the Irish fullback. Nevertheless, Tom Roche thought he had crossed for Ireland’s second try but after a referral to the TMO, the try was disallowed due to a high tackle from Jack Aungier who was sent to the bin.

Ireland capped off a fine half with another score which was made in the forwards but this time finished by Hugh O’Sullivan. Ireland’s forwards gave them a great platform in the first half which saw them take a 17-5 lead at the break.

France responded immediately after the restart through Arthur Coville. Romain N’tamack through Jordan Joseph who offloaded to their scrum half. Ireland’s lead was wiped out minutes later, when N’tamack turned scorer after a break from Lucas Tauzin down the right wing. The French outhalf gathered his own kick into the goal line and converted to give the hosts a 19-17 lead.

France’s third try off the half followed after a dominant scrum on half way. N’tamack found Laporte who made the incisive break. Maxime Marty converted France’s good work with his second try of the game with a score in the corner.

Ireland struggled to stem the flow of the French attack with the hosts showing the flair that we associated with Les Bleus sides of the noughties. Ireland found it difficult to live with the power of replacement back row forward, Jordan Joseph as he notched up three clean breaks in a powerful second half performance.

Ireland kept fighting and Harry Byrne narrowed the gap to two points with a try and conversion giving this Irish side hope. Tommy O’Brien saved a certain try scoring opportunity while Jonny Stewart broke down the left to give Ireland a glimmer of hope.

It was not to be as Ireland lost the resulting lineout allowing France to close out a narrow but hard fought victory.

Speaking to Matthew Dalton after the match he commented on Ireland’s tactic of rolling on the deck once contact was made:

“The body-ball helped us deny France any chance of a turnover.

“It was something that we had been working on over the last few months as we play best with quick ruck ball and that was evident in the first half.

“At half time we said that they would come out of the blocks but we could not live with in the first ten minutes. We eventually got ourselves into the half and we pulled it close.

“We had a game plan to take to the French and it worked in the first half. We’ll move onto the match against South Africa with confidence.”

Player ratings are below the gallery. 

Photo credit – John McMurtry & Beth Cregan

6.8 Awesome

Ulster boys, Joe Dunleavy, Matthew Dalton and Matthew Agnew performed well and played a vital part in Ireland's first two tries.

Tommy O'Brien was excellent in defence, pulling off a terrific tackle late on while Michael Silvester denied Maxime Marty early on.

  • Jordan Duggan 7
  • Diarmuid Barron 7
  • Jack Aungier 6
  • Matthew Dalton 8
  • Jack Dunne 7
  • Joe Dunleavy 8
  • Matthew Agnew 7
  • Caelan Doris 8
  • Hugh O'Sullivan 7
  • Harry Byrne 7
  • Dan Hurley 6
  • Peter Sylvester 6
  • Tommy O'Brien 7
  • Tom Roche 6
  • Michael Silvester 8
  • Dan Sheehan 6
  • Brian O'Connor 6
  • Joe Byrne 6
  • Cormac Daly 6
  • Aaron Hall N/A
  • Jonny Stewart N/A
  • Conor Dean N/A
  • Sean O'Brien 7
  • User Ratings (2 Votes) 5.9