19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
Vincent Clerc was once again Ireland's tormenter-in-chief as the Toulouse winger crossed for the only try of the game in the 17th minute.
Incredibly, it was Clerc's eighth touchdown in as many games against Ireland and it helped France take a 13-3 half-time lead.
But Kidney will have been heartened by the way his side turned things around in the second period, with Ronan O'Gara's right boot almost leading a much-improved Ireland to victory.
Mercifully for Ireland, the sun was all but down just before kick-off. However, they were still testing conditions for the visitors in a packed-out Stade Chaban Delmas.
The Irish management chose to pair Keith Earls with Paddy Wallace in the centre, while Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross made up the front row. Eoin Reddan joined O'Gara at half-back.
France, playing the first of their back-to-back matches against Ireland and still smarting from the defeat to Italy in the Six Nations, handed Biarritz's Raphael Lakafia his first cap at number 8.
Les Bleus made their intentions clear from the off, pinning Ireland back early on and earning a penalty just outside the 22. Yachvili it slotted over to give France the lead after four minutes.
Four minutes late Maxime Mermoz kicked through for Clerc, and he looked to have beaten Rob Kearney for pace. But the Louth man produced an excellent tackle and some great covering by the busy Andrew Trimble prevented Clerc's offload reaching a blue shirt.
The French were clearly in the mood though and after the Irish rearguard bravely held them up on the line through several phases, Damien Traille somehow missed a simple drop goal chance.
Some more disciplined defending was then required but after Alexis Palisson was swallowed up by Wallace five metres out, Clerc was on hand to finish from Palisson's pass out of the tackle. Yachvili converted to make it 10-0.
Playing in unfamiliar white, Ireland were being forced to defend for much of the half but Healy, Sean O'Brien and Trimble were showing promise when they did get on the ball. The scrum was also performing well.
A superb O'Gara penalty from 45 metres out, shortly before half-time, meant Ireland trailed 13-3 at the break.
The visitors were a different side in the second half as they got their attack game going, with Kearney making one memorable 60-metre burst. O'Gara scored two more penalties after 48 and 53 minutes to reduce the arrears to four points.
Felix Jones, Paul O'Connell, Jerry Flannery, Jamie Heaslip and Tony Buckley were all introduced as Ireland began to dominate, and another superbly-struck penalty from O'Gara saw the gap reduced to just one point as the hour mark approached.
With Ireland holding onto possession for longer spells and threatening the French defence, O'Connell and O'Gara were beginning to stamp their mark on proceedings.
O'Connell, making his 76th appearance, helped improve the Irish lineout and had some impressive restart catches and a crucial interception as France countered.
His Munster colleague, young scrum half Conor Murray, also came on for his Ireland debut with 20 minutes left. It has been a meteoric rise for the 22-year-old, who was playing for Garryowen in the All-Ireland League last season.
Jones almost scored a brilliant individual try when he cleverly kicked into the 22 and Yachvili had to scamper back to clear. From the resulting lineout, the Irish forwards forced another penalty.
But O'Gara's attempt from wide out on the left missed the target, meaning France still led 13-12 in the final quarter.
Ireland still had the momentum, yet in a scrappy finish France managed to wrestle back some control. The nerveless Yachvili finally stopped the tide with a 45-metre penalty that put the hosts four to the good with 13 minutes left.
Another penalty by the Biarritz scrum half with nine minutes remaining sealed the win, despite more late pressure from Ireland who failed to turn a close range scrum and lineout into points.
Kidney's men will have an immediate chance to gain revenge when the sides clash in the rematch at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday evening (kick-off 5pm). Ticket details for next week's games are here.
|France Score Card|
|Ireland Score Card|