By Ros Satar
Ireland 13 – 13 France
On a miserable day in Dublin, Ireland could not repeat their first half dominance, allowing France to draw level in appalling conditions.
A single try by Jamie Heaslip, and the remaining points from the boot of Paddy Jackson put Ireland in the driving seat at the end of the first half.
Ireland seemed to adapt to the conditions far quicker, shortening their line-outs and taking their time.
They were rewarded when they managed to stay on their feet in a maul, in appalling conditions, with Jamie Heaslip scoring the try, converted by Paddy Jackson.
France’s decision to include the out-of-form Frederic Michelak looked all the more baffling as he missed his first kick at goal shortly afterwards.
After 26 minutes, Michelak finally got himself (and France) on the board from a penalty.
Paddy Jackson got Ireland out to a 13-3 lead from two penalties, as Ireland’s confidence grew with the more momentum they gained.
France made some ground for the first time towards the end of the first half but the Irish defence held them off.
A late penalty for France with the last kick of the first half was sent wide for the unfortunate Michelak, leaving the visitors with a lot of work to do after the break.
At the restart, finally the French put Morgan Parra on kicking duty with a penalty in the driving rain, putting French within a converted try of equalising.
For the first time, the French seemed to have a bit more urgency to their game, as Ireland started to give away penalties, although Parra could not work any magic with a tricky wide kick on this occasion.
With 20 minutes to go France looked to have their tails up driving Ireland back deep into their 22, while trying to avoid the Irish physios treating Luke Marshall.
France somehow scramble a try courtesy of Louis Picamoles after a couple of scrappy scrums, with a Michelak conversion to bring France level.
With five minutes left, O’Driscoll came back on to the field to finish potentially his final home international.
Ireland wasted no time in charging down the field but couldn’t Earls could not quite chase down the ball.
At the final whistle, a draw will not be enough for France to avoid the wooden spoon, but Ireland will be asking some questions of themselves for allowing France back in to the game at all.