10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
BAYONNE 6 IRELAND 42, Stade Jean Dauger (Att: 13,000)
Scorers: Bayonne: Pen: Richard Dourthe; Drop: Richard Dourthe
Ireland: Tries: Paul O'Connell 2, Denis Hickie 3, Andrew Trimble; Cons: Ronan O'Gara 3; Pens: Ronan O'Gara 2
O'Driscoll had to leave the Stade Jean Dauger pitch after an hour's play having taken a punch to the face and the skipper was sent to hospital for an X-ray after the match, which confirmed he will be out for 3-4 weeks with a fracture to his sinus and a deep laceration under his right eye.
Both Leamy, who injured his shoulder in the first half, and Paddy Wallace, who took a heavy hit in the closing stages, were in the wars but word from the Ireland camp is that their injuries are not serious.
Rugby wise, this bruising encounter will be remembered for the hat-trick of tries scored by Ireland winger Denis Hickie, who is set to retire from the professional game after the World Cup.
Hickie touched down after 11, 42 and 77 minutes to crown an impressive display. Paul O'Connell (2) and Andrew Trimble, who also scored against Scotland last weekend, were Ireland's other try scorers with out-half Ronan O'Gara contributing 12 points with the boot.
The fact that Ireland were playing in blue due to this being a non-representative game did little to deter Eddie O'Sullivan's charges from setting about their task early on.
In muggy conditions and watched by France's defensive coach and video analyst, O'Gara landed a first-minute penalty from just outside the Bayonne 22 to set Ireland on their way and the visitors were 15-0 to the good within eleven minutes.
Gordon D'Arcy sliced through the home side's midfield to set up the attacking platform for Ireland's opening try in the eighth-minute. He floated out a pass for Hickie to continue the move and quick support from the pack helped lock O'Connell plunge over in the corner.
O'Gara missed the conversion but following a turnover close to Ireland's 22 allowed the visitors break clear for try number two. O'Gara dangled a superb crossfield kick over for the unmarked Hickie, near the Irish ten-metre line, and his searing pace, allied to a decoy run from Leamy, saw the Bayonne defence crumble and allow the Leinster man in for his first score.
Ireland continued to press and used a number of penalty chances to test out their attacking lineout options. Bayonne upped their game considerably for the second quarter despite having one of their forwards sin-binned.
An error from the Irish scrum allowed former French international Richard Dourthe kick Bayonne's first points from a 30-metre penalty, and after Ireland's Neil Best saw yellow for getting involved in an off-the-ball incident, Dourthe flung over a well-struck drop goal.
But Ireland bounced back to grab a timely try in first half injury-time when Trimble, after good work from O'Driscoll, took advantage of a comical mix-up between Larrechea and Xavier Garbajosa, who managed to run into each other. That left the Ulster flyer with an easy run in to the corner.
Having been 20-6 in front at the interval, Ireland put the game out of Bayonne's reach with two tries in the early stages of the second half. After Hickie made his way along the left touchline to cross in the corner, O'Gara was wide with the conversion but managed to add the extras to a thrilling 47th-minute score from O'Connell.
In a pacy break forward set up by Neil Best and Simon Easterby, Marcus Horan took the ball on and made considerable yardage before he was grounded. The Munster prop had the wherewithal to pop a pass for O'Connell who got up in support and brushed off the challenge of Larrechea on a 30-metre sprint to the line.
The pace of the game dropped for the remainder, plenty of niggle crept into the game. The punch on O'Driscoll soured the atmosphere further, two more Bayonne players were sent to the bin by referee Wayne Barnes, however fittingly it was left to Hickie, one of the better players on the night, to complete his hat-trick on a night that will go down in the annals of Irish rugby history as 'The Battle of Bayonne.'
Commenting afterwards on the O'Driscoll incident, coach O'Sullivan said: "I'm genuinely worried about Brian. He's gone for an X-ray. If the doc's worried, then I'm worried. Hopefully, he is okay. And if he isn't, it would be a very big pity. We knew we would get a physical game here, we needed that game. Bar Brian's injury, it was a worthwhile exercise. It'll be overshadowed if Brian got injured (though).
'It was a punch thrown, so you can't legislate for that. Anyone can throw a punch anytime. It could be serious if it is fractured, it would be a pity."
Bayonne: Daniel Larrechea; Vincent Inigo, Xavier Garbajosa, Richard Dourthe (capt), Benjamin Lhande; Henri-Pierre Vermis, Julien Tilloles; Jean-Marie Usandisaga, David Roumieu, Aretz Iguiniz, Rob Linde, Cedric Bergez, Jacques Deen, Louis Massabeau, Dwayne Haare.
Replacements used: Arnaud Heguy for Roumieu, Julian Fiorini for Usandisaga, Marc Baget for Haare (all half-time), Anthony Sallecanne for Tilloles (47 mins), Mikaera Tewhata for Bergez (52), Shaun Hegarty for Dourthe (68), Simon Ternisien for Inigo (71).
Ireland: Girvan Dempsey; Andrew Trimble, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Gordon D'Arcy, Denis Hickie; Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Rory Best, John Hayes, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Simon Easterby, Neil Best, Denis Leamy.
Replacements used: Alan Quinlan for Leamy (37 mins), Eoin Reddan for Stringer (54), Geordan Murphy for O'Driscoll (61), Malcolm O'Kelly for O'Connell, Paddy Wallace for Trimble (both 69), Frankie Sheahan for R Best, Bryan Young for Hayes (both 71).
Sin Bin: Bayonne: Bergez (25 mins), Larrechea (57), Baget (67), Linde (79).
Ireland: N Best (29 mins), D'Arcy (67).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)