A INTERNATIONAL: Friday, March 11Ireland A 15 France A 9, DonnybrookScorers: Ireland A: Pens: Paddy Wallace 4, Paul BurkeFrance A: Pens: Benjamin Boyet 2, Jean-Baptiste Dambielle
Wallace - one of nine Ulster players in coach Michael Bradley's squad - booted all four in the first half, as the Irish began in style with the Donnybrook breeze at their backs.
The 25-year-old kicked his first on 4 minutes, and he punished French indiscipline with a further two by the mid-point of the opening half.
When the two sides' captains clashed nearing the half-hour, Nicolas Durand got the better of Bernard Jackman as the Connacht hooker was pinged for a high tackle.
Benjamin Boyet slotted the resultant penalty over, but Wallace's fourth handed Bradley's men a nine-point cushion - 12-3 - at the break.
The Irish, though, made hard work of it in the second half as with Ulster prop Simon Best hauled off through injury, they lost Connacht substitute Ray Hogan for a ruck indiscretion, close to the Irish line on 59 minutes.
Ulster coach Mark McCall will not have been best pleased with full-back Bryn Cunningham also shipping a first-half injury.
France - through imaginative running from former Under-21 Julien Arias and outside centre Jean-Francois Coux - sparked into life in the final half-hour, and but for dogged and inspired home defence, would have got in for a try or two.
Full-back Jean-Baptiste Dambielle chipped in with their second penalty and while Wallace's replacement Paul Burke of Munster cancelled that out on 75 minutes with one of his own, Boyet's second success kept the Irish juggernaut - particularly their experienced set of forwards - going right to the finish.
Afterwards, coach Michael Bradley hailed his side's determined efforts. "I'm very happy with the result. It was a difficult game for us because we built a healthy lead before they hit back. But we deserved to win.
The second half was a much more defensive effort - but the manner in which we held out - that was pleasing to see.
"The most important thing for me was that the lads performed as a team and gave everything for each other," added the former Ireland captain and scrum-half.
(15) Bryn Cunnigham (Ulster - Dungannon)(14) Tommy Bowe (Ulster - Belfast Harlequins)(13) Kieran Lewis (Leinster - St. Mary's College)(12) David Quinlan (Leinster - Blackrock College)
Replacements used: Ray Hogan (Connacht - Galwegians) for Best, Shaun Payne (Munster - Dolphin) for Cunningham (both 39 mins), Paul Burke (Munster - Garryowen) for Wallace (64), Ben Gissing (Leinster - Clontarf) for Casey, P Shields (Ulster - Ballymena) for Jackman (both 72), David Wallace (Munster - Garryowen) for Wilson, Brian O'Riordan (Leinster - UCD) for Campbell (both 78).
Coach: Michael BradleyAssistant Coach: Allen ClarkeManager: Joey Miles
France A: Jean-Baptiste Dambielle; Julien Arias, Jean-Frangois Coux, Guillaume Bousshs, Julien Candelon; Benjamin Boyet, Nicolas Durand (Capt); Vincent Debaty, Romain Terrain, Grigory Menkarska, Romain Millo-Chluski, Lionel Nallet, Jirtme Vallie, Pierre Rabadan, Mohammed Dridi.Replacements used: Romain Froment for Vallie, Pierre Capdevielle for Menkarska (both half-time), Julien Pierre for Millo-Chluski (53), Mathieu Blin for Terrain (65), Pascal Bomati for Coux (74), Nicolas Laharrague for Arias (77). Not used: Jean-Baptiste Pijoine.
Sin-bin: Ray Hogan (Ireland) (59 mins)HT: Ireland A 12 France A 3Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)Touch judges: Steve Leyshon, Peter Huckle (both England)