France held on for a 19-12 win against Ireland after leading 13-3 at half-time in Bordeaux.
France were dominant in all facets of play in the first half as wing Vincent Clerc finished off a smart attacking move while scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili had no trouble finding the target. Lock Julien Pierre ruled the lineouts, skipper Thierry Dusautoir led the breakdown fight while the halfback combination of Yachvili and Francois Trinh-Duc unleashed their backline in an expansive approach.
A 10-point advantage was an injustice after what happened in the first half, yet it was still a promising start to the match. Ireland were lucky to score any points before the break when flyhalf Ronan O’Gara kicked a late penalty for the last score of the half.
France, however, had an indifferent start to the second stanza. An errant display gave the visitors a platform to get back into the game, and they did through the boot of O’Gara. The Irish pivot kicked three successive penalties to cut the deficit down to one point, before missing his fourth attempt which would’ve given his team the lead.
After several substitutions, France regained the ascendancy in the final quarter and two more penalties from Yachvili (who finished with a flawless kicking performance of five from five attempts) sealed the win.