Ireland’s season of woe took another turn for the worst on Saturday – but at least this time they managed a 13-13 draw with bottom of the table France.
Declan Kidney’s job is still on the line after his side failed to score in the second-half as the visitors bit back at the Aviva Stadium.
Thanks to a Jamie Heaslip try and two penalties and a conversion from young out-half Paddy Jackson, Ireland were 13-3 up at the interval.
But France were the dominant side throughout the second-half as Ireland hung on for a share of the spoils.
Morgan Parra and Frederic Michalak scored three-pointers for the French with number eight Louis Picamoles scoring their try which Michalak converted to level the scores.
And Ireland suffered another blow late on when replacement scrum-half Eoin Reddan broke his leg.
Captain Heaslip admitted: “It probably wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but I think the score reflected the game. There was not much between the teams but they came back strong in the last 20 minutes. It was a very tough game.
“Picamoles took his chance well at the end and did well despite our best efforts and we took our opportunities when they came.”
Winger Keith Earls had a late ‘penalty try’ ruled out by the video ref as he chased for the ball in the right-hand corner with France replacement Vincent Debaty.
Heaslip said: “From what I saw, Keith got bumped a bit but they went upstairs, the video referee called it as he did and you have to get on with it.”
Ireland let a half-time lead slip for the third time in this Six Nations and coach Kidney admitted: “The players have taken everything that’s been thrown at them and just got on with it.
“So to put our foot forward like that and be creating in the way we are doing actually adds to the frustration.
“The players are down, but that’s the measure of how much they push themselves and why I stand by them so much.
“In another time the team would be so much stronger for what’s happening at the moment.”