RBS Six Nations: France fight back to claim 13-13 draw against Ireland in Dublin
France fought back from ten points down to claim a 13-13 draw against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Last Updated: 10/03/13 8:47am
A late converted try from Louis Picamoles ensured that the afternoon ended in frustration for the home side, especially Brian O'Driscoll who was making what is widely expected to be his last home appearance in an Ireland shirt.
A first-half try from skipper Jamie Heaslip had given Ireland the upper hand and they looked well on course for victory having stretched into a 13-3 lead by the interval.
But France finally came to life in the latter stages of the second period and could even have pinched victory in a dramatic final few minutes.
With persistent rain ensuring running rugby was very much at a premium at the Aviva Stadium, it was Ireland who got to grips with the slippery conditions quicker and they hit the front on ten minutes - Heaslip burrowing over at the back of a forward drive after Donnacha Ryan had commandingly won a line-out - Paddy Jackson added a fine conversion.
France should have responded shortly afterwards, but Frederic Michalak pushed a regulation penalty attempt wide after Ireland prop Mike Ross had been penalised at the scrum, while Jackson missed a more difficult opportunity from range after Nicolas Mas had been spotted going over the top at a ruck.
On 27 minutes Michalak did find his range to get France on the board after Cian Healy collapsed a scrum, but the impressive Jackson responded by landing two almost identical penalties of his own to put the hosts 13-3 ahead as first Yoann Maestri and then Christophe Samson infringed.
France should have reduced the deficit just before the half-time whistle, but Michalak was again off target with another close-range penalty, rather summing up a lacklustre French display.
Ireland were straight back on the front foot after the restart, pressuring the visitors in their own 22, but they were unable to convert their dominance into points with Jackson seeing another penalty drift wide and Rob Kearney nowhere near with an ambitious drop-goal.
Having survived, France finally began to rouse themselves and cut into the lead when Morgan Parra - taking over kicking duties from Michalak - slotted a 40-metre penalty after Ross was again pinged at the scrum.
Parra had a second similar opportunity minutes later but this time leaked his attempt left of the uprights as Ireland's advantage stayed at seven.
But France were very much back in the contest and began to apply pressure as the match reached its climax, their reward Picamoles' try five minutes from time as the outstanding number eight powered over from close range.
O'Driscoll's afternoon looked to have come to a premature end as he was forced from the field eight minutes from time, but he returned for a frantic denouement as both sides pushed for the win - the final chance passing when Michalak's kick through just drifted out of play.