IRISH COLLEGES 3 FRENCH STUDENTS 18, Balbriggan RFC
Scorers: Ireland: Drop: Brian Collins
France: Tries: Quentin Valencon, Mathieu Paillares; Con: Mathieu Belie; Pen: Mathieu Belie; Drop: Mathieu Belie
Snow across Dublin, which wiped out a series of sporting fixtures at the weekend, had made the Suttonians venue unplayable and put the Irish Colleges v French Students game in some doubt.
But the hard working staff, some of whom were on call as early as 8am on Friday morning, made this Colleges game an overwhelming success.
Played on a terrific pitch, the north County Dublin venue did the Fingal village proud and in credit to both teams, the rugby on offer provided good entertainment for those brave enough to endure the elements.
This was the first encounter between the two sides and the French went into the game with a good record having lost just the one of their four fixtures in 2008.
On the night, Irish Colleges succumbed to a mobile French team who twice struck with tries in the left corner in each half.
Nonetheless, there were plenty of encouraging displays for the Irish - none more so than that of prop Mike Storey, who powered the Irish on with some terrific drives.
The two teams had early chances on goal with former Ireland Schools and underage out-half Brian Collins unable to capitalise on an early French miss when pulling a penalty just wide of the posts.
But shortly afterwards the Boyne man sent over a great drop goal after the French had surrendered possession off a lineout inside their own 22.
The French were able to reply with a drop goal of their own from out-half Mathieu Belie midway through the half.
The Irish then conceded a penalty in front of the posts when an Irish forward ventured offside as he tried to charge down an attempted drop goal from the Belie,
Although the CSRU Toulouse number 10 duly was unsuccessful with his effort, he made no mistake on 26 minutes to put the French in front for the first time.
And then just short of the half-hour, a stunning move from right to left saw Clement Imbert release Quentin Valencon out wide. Despite Collins' best efforts to put him in touch, Valencon prevailed to squeeze over in the corner.
With Belie unsuccessful with the conversion, the French went in at half-time 11-3 up but the Irish enjoyed a good spell in the third quarter with John Downey very prominent in the loose.
Crucially, the home side then conceded a second try when replacement winger Mathieu Paillares ran onto a diagonal ball to make the left-hand corner.
Belie landed the difficult conversion from just inside the touchline for what proved to be the final score of an entertaining game.
IRISH COLLEGES: P Budina; J Devitt, L Kavanagh, K Lynch, D Fanning; B Collins, S Treacy; N Simpson, C Culleton, M Storey, B Moroney, R Copeland, J Dever, J Downey, A Dunlop.
Replacements used: S Snell, A Ferguson, E Nihill, A Kerr, S Joyce, M Geraghy, C Morrin.
FRENCH STUDENTS: K Pautric; S Ternisien, Q Valencon, P Bonnefond, C Imbert; M Belie, L Labarthe; C Ric, B Denoyelle, G Fabro, JB Roidot, A Louchard, S Nicolas, B Leonte, M Petidemange.
Replacements used: M Paillares, A Giacobbazzi, C Delarue, C Coll, R Bonfils, B Zanon, L Charlon.
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)