After a heartbreaking loss to Wales a week ago, Ireland looked to get their Guinness Six Nations campaign back on track when they hosted France on Sunday.
Playing with just 14 men for most of the match against Wales, Ireland came within five points of their hosts, after putting up a fairly good performance.
Andy Farrell was forced into a number of changes, with Peter O'Mahony receiving a three-match ban for his red card against Wales, while Jonathan Sexton and James Ryan were ruled out with concussion symptoms. Conor Murray was also ruled out due to a hamstring strain.
France, on the other hand, came into the match off the back of a 50-10 victory over Italy, with only two changes to their high-flying side a week earlier.
The visitors were awarded the first point-scoring opportunity within the first 10 minutes of the match, however Matthieu Jalibert was unable to capitalise on the penalty from the lineout.
Jalibert was not the only one to miss with his first attempt, though, as Billy Burns missed a penalty of his own in the almost 10 minutes later, leaving the score level halfway through the first half.
Burns did not let that early miss affect him, however, as his kicking from hand got Ireland into good field position, and allowed him a second shot at goal on the stroke of 20 minutes gone. Ireland took the three-point lead heading into the second quarter.
The visitors' Six Nations worries were compounded by a yellow card for Bernard le Roux, who was penalised for a trip against Keith Earls, who was chasing one of Jamison Gibson-Park's up-and-unders.
Ireland wasted no time in exploiting the extra man, spreading the ball wide from the lineout immediately, however James Lowe was denied a try in the corner by the Television Match Official (TMO).
With the game on a knife-edge heading into the final 10 minutes of the match, Jalibert failed to take France out to a more comfortable lead as his penalty kick struck the posts.
With shades of the situation from last week, Ireland received a penalty in the final minute of the match, which Byrne put just inside the French half.
The French defence held strong, ultimately forcing a turnover with time up on the clock, earning their first win in Dublin in 10 years.
STOP KICKING THE BALL #IREvFRA
— Niall Breslin (@nbrez) February 14, 2021
Shaun Edwards is the key! #IREvFRA
— Mike Phillips (@mikephillips009) February 14, 2021
Hmmm that wasn’t great. Some good performances but we just didn’t have it to win. #IREvFRA pic.twitter.com/d0p5rfFJfw
— Dr Jennifer Kavanagh (@quiatimet) February 14, 2021
Brave effort by Ireland. Not getting any of the luck we did in 2018 but given the team we had today, to be within a score of France at the end was an achievement. #IREvFRA
— Frank McNally (@FrankmcnallyIT) February 14, 2021
Too many average performances there. Small margins, but the carries weren't deep enough, tackles weren't hard enough, and running wasn't fast enough. Kicking and set pieces were good. But it's all meh... #IREvFRA
— Anthony Behan (@technopolitics) February 14, 2021
That was another great game! Bravo au bleu!! 👏#GuinnessSixNations #IREvFRA
— Natalie S. (@natalieeliza29) February 14, 2021
Come back Joe Schmidt 😔 #IREvFRA #ShoulderToShoulder #TeamOfUs #GuinnessSixNations https://t.co/vjf8jSrTqT
— David Patterson (@DPatz13) February 14, 2021
No reason for Jonny Sexton to play again for Ireland. A great player but the head needs to rule the heart if Ireland are to progress #IREvFRA
— Robobet F (@robfbac) February 14, 2021
Ireland left it out there but key defensive mistakes were latched upon by France.
Harsh realities of test match rugby. Gibson-Park and Lowe defensively must learn from those French tries
Attacking lines a mixed bag today. Running and supporting lines need to be better #IREvFRA
— Hawkeye Sidekick (@hawkeyesidekick) February 14, 2021
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