FRANCE 10 IRELAND 9
Ireland suffered agaony in Paris with this narrow loss to France on Saturday afternoon.
The Irish had led 9-3 at the break, but 10 minutes from time conceded a converted try to trail 10-9.
Les Bleus retained possession from the restart - replacement Iain Madigan kicking the ball out on the full - to leave the defending champions hopes of an unprecedented third straight RBS 6 Nations Championship titles fading further after last week’s draw with Wales in Dublin.
Ireland had dominated the first half and the 9-3 interval lead reflected that.
Outhalf Jonathan Sexton kicked three from three penalties on 14, 27 and 38 minutes.
France’s Jules Plisson was on target on 32 minutes but missed another effort just on half-time.
The Irish again dominated the third quarter territorily, but were unable to turn the pressure into points, so impressive was the French rearguard.
A counter-attack on 61 minutes reflected the danger of the French and it also saw a swing in momemtum with Les Bleus now dominating with territory and possession.
Irish winger Andrew Trimble stopped two potential try scoring chances, but the French pack then turned the screw.
A penalty to touch saw ball secured five metres out and the drive was put on. Several drives later with the Irish defence digging in it looked as though number eight Chouly had crossed, but on TMO review there was no way to see a clear grounding.
From the scrum Ireland were penalised and after a third penalty, the Irish pack were warned that they were in danger or conceding a penalty try.
The fourth scrum saw the French move the ball quickly and fullback Maxime Medard crossed for the decisive score. Plisson’s simple conversion in front of the posts was to seal the victory.
France: Medard; Thomas, Mermoz, Danty, Vakatawa; Plisson, Bezy; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Atonio; Flanquart, Maestri, Lauret, Camara, Chouly.
Replacements:Chat, Slimani, Ben Arous, Jedresiak, Goujon, Machenaud, Doussain, Bonneval.
Ireland: R Kearney; Trimble, Payne, Henshaw, D Kearney; Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best (capt), White; McCarthy, Toner; Stander, O’Brien, Heaslip.
Replacements:Strauss, J Cronin, Furlong, Ryan, O’Donnell, Reddan, Madigan, McFadden.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)