Peter Nelson, Stephen Murphy and Conor Finn all impressed in the opening exchanges and were only denied an early score by some dramatic French defence and a forward pass.
The French team eventually got some possession and pressurised the Irish defence which was resolute in the initial stages. However, seven minutes into the game the French team made good ground down the blindside of a ruck.
The Irish defence was eventually breached when the French forwards eventually rumbled over for a try scored by their giant second row forward, Bastion Chalereau. The try was converted by the French outhalf, Thomas Laranjeria, to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
The Irish team responded positively to this setback and attacked the French at every opportunity. The visitors came close on a number of occasions only to be denied on a number of occasions by needless knocks on.
Cathal Marsh went close with a penalty attempt midway through the first half. He struck the ball well from close to the half way line only to see his kick drift wide by the narrowest of margins.
The Irish team was dominating the forward exchanges, especially the set pieces with the front row of Des Merrey, Niall Scannell and Tadgh Furlong causing all sorts of problems for their opposite numbers.
Close to the break, quick phase ball enabled the Irish backline to outpace the French defence with Barry Daly taking advantage of good work from Nelson and Stephen Murphy to touch down for a well-deserved try. Marsh added the conversion to take the score to 7-7.
From the restart the French team took play deep into Irish territory but they were denied any opportunity of scoring when the referee, Luke Pearce, blew for the half time break.
The Irish team started the second half strongly but their endeavours were met by stiff opposition from a French team that had recorded excellent impressive recent victories against Italy U19’s and England U19’s.
The French team made a number of early second half substitutions and this seemed to give them an added impetus. The Irish defence was well organised with the back row trio of Jack Conan, Jordan Coughlan and Captain, Conor Gilsenan, getting through a lot of work.
The Irish boys turned over the French team on a number of occasions enabling them to turn defence into attack. The visitors went close on a number of occasions but were unable to capitalise on some promising periods of attack.
For most of the final quarter of the game the French enjoyed periods of quality possession but their attacks were thwarted by an Irish defence that was quite outstanding. Wave after wave of French attacks were met by a “never say die” attitude displayed by all the Irish team.
A number of replacement players were brought on by the Irish management and they displayed exactly the same qualities.
The game finished at 7-7 with the players from both teams getting a fantastic reception from the packed stadium of supporters in recognition of the quality game of rugby they had just witnessed.
FRANCE : Jean Bernard Pujol, Darly Domvo, Fabrice Catala, Vincent Martin, Yohan Artru, Thomas Laranjeira, Tom Ecochard (cap) Karl Château, Kelian Galletier, Julien Derrien, Andrew,Chauveau, Bastien Chalureau, Jeff Poirot, Raphael Carbou, Sebastien Taofifenua
Replacements : Kevin Firmin, Max Granouillet, Julien Moretto, Florian Fresia, Julien Plantade, Xavier Chauveau, llian Perraux, Jean-Yves Zebango
IRELAND: Peter Nelson (Royal School, Dungannon); Conor Finn (Cistercian College, Roscrea); Stephen Murphy (Gonzaga College); Shane Leydon (Cistercian College, Roscrea); Barry Daly (Gonzaga College); Cathal Marsh (Dublin University); Kieran Marmion (UWIC RFC); Des Merrey (Clontarf RFC); Niall Scannell (Dolphin RFC); Tadgh Furlong (Clontarf RFC); Darren O’Shea (Crosshaven RFC); Iain Henderson (Queen’s University RFC); Jack Conan (St Gerard’s College); Conor Gilsenan (Clongowes Wood College) Captain; Jordan Coughlan (Clongowes Wood College).
Replacements: Brian Moylett (Lansdowne RFC) for O’Shea (50) Charles Gallagher (Campbell College) for Conan (55) Conor Spence (Queen’s University RFC) for Marmion (55) Rory Harrison (University College, Dublin RFC) for Furlong (65) Jonny Murphy (Banbridge RFC) for Scannell (65); Ryan Jablonski (London Irish); Jack Carty (Buccaneers RFC); Tadgh Leader Galwegians RFC).
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