They trailed 7-5 at the end of an entertaining first half, their try coming in the first minute of injury time when Tommy Bowe crossed for on the right at the Well end. Ireland had gone behind to a well worked try from centre Jean Phillippe Grandclaude in the 15th minute following a smart break from impressive out-half, Benoit Baby. They were fortunate not to be further in arrears when Thomas Soucaze crossed under the posts in the 28th minute, but referee Colin Saunders was badly positioned and failed to see the French flanker ground the ball.
At the start of the second half, Ireland scored again when Bowe raced home from his own ten metre line after the French had coughed up the ball and in the 61st minute out-half Michael Rainey put six points between the sides when he converted a 30 metre penalty.
Just prior to that, Bowe had been replaced by Peter O'Brien whose first act was to chase back and save a certain try when Vincent Deniau sprinted clear. And that was the pattern of the Irish defence. Whenever the French crossed the gainline there was an Irish jersey there to cover back. In the final moments the home side displayed a fierce determination to gain a victory they richly deserved.
Ireland T Bowe (Belfast Harlequins); R Lane (UCC), K Matthews (UL Bohemian), B Murphy (UL Bohemian), J Hearty (Blackrock College); M Rainey (Dundee HSFP), F O'Loughlin (Shannon); E McGovern (Old Crescent), N Best (Belfast Harlequins), J Moran (UCD); N McCombe, (Glasgow Hawks), D Gannon (UCD); J Muldoon (Galwegians), S Keogh capt (UCC), N Ronan (Lansdowne).
France. Etcheverria (Biarritz); Sestaret (Section Paloise), Lison (Grenoble), Grandclaude (Biziers), Donguy (Brive); Baby (Stade Toulousain), Durand (Biziers); Lamboley (Stade Toulousain, capt), Soucaze (Biarritz), Nyanga (Biziers), Friand (Agen), Marchois (Stade Frangais), Bergos (Pau), Rioux (Stade Toulousain), Berhabe (Dax).Replacements: Vigouroux (Perpignan), Forestier (Albi), Millo-Chlusky (Stade Toulousain), Deniau (Montferrand), C Garcia (Montauban), PE Garcia (Narbonne), Lafforgue (Biziers).
Referee: C Saunders (Wales).