Ireland's dreams of another Grand Slam came to a screeching halt in the first ever Six Nations game in the Aviva Stadium. France came into Dublin and claimed victory on the back of Morgan Parra's boot by 3 points.
Ireland erased the memories of their poor performance in Rome last week within minutes of the opening kickoff against France. A blustering start from the men in green resulted in an early try for youngster Fergus McFadden. The Irish pack pressured the French with physical running from Sean O'Brien and David Wallace while Jamie Heaslip's presence stood out throughout.
Ireland couldn't capitalize fully on their early dominance as a back and forth first half followed. The French took over momentum as Morgan Parra repeatedly punished Irish mistakes with excellent goal kicking. Ireland's 10-0 lead quickly evaporated and they were behind 12-10 after 30 minutes. The French hadn't really got it going yet and Ireland always looked to have the measure of their opposition. A Tomás O'Leary try came after a pre rehearsed lineout move that gave the men in green a 15-12 lead at the break.
Even though Ireland had the momentum going into the half it was the French that exploded into the second half. France went straight into the Irish 22 after good play from their backline. Ireland's defense had been outstanding all day and this was no exception as a blocked drop goal attempt rebuffed the attack. However the boot of Parra was a constant thorn in the Irish side as he hit a penalty straight through the posts from the halfway line ten minutes later to tie the game.
Curiously Parra was removed from the equation within minutes. It proved to be insignificant to the French backline as Rougerie burst through a Gordon D'Arcy tackle to feed Maxime Medard for the leading try. France tacked on another penalty before Ireland lay siege to the French line. Jamie Heaslip dived over in the corner after 25 phases of play. Ronan O'Gara converted the kick to make it a 3 point game with 12 minutes remaining.
Unfortunately Ireland's comeback came to a halt there as France played out the final minutes with relative ease except for one break from Keith Earls that finished with another knock on. It was an impressive performance by the Irish scoring three good tries and predominantly defending well but there were too many errors and stupid mistakes that ultimately gave France the victory. France escaped Dublin with a 3 point victory 25-22.
For more on this match go to: http://tinyurl.com/65mdkr