The Ireland Women were edged out 10-5 by France in a titanic tussle at Ashbourne RFC which was delayed by a series of floodlight failures.
A problem with the power generator at Milltown House was eventually resolved and following a scoreless first half, Marie Louise Reilly's lineout catch teed up a five pointer for Ailis Egan – her first try in this year's Six Nations.
However, French winger Caroline Boujard responded with an intercept effort which Jessy Tremoulière converted and with Paula Fitzpatrick in the sin-bin, Tremoulière's subsequent penalty was the match-winning score.
The match manager, referee Claire Hodnett and teams were in constant contact and a solution was agreed with a back-up plan to move to Ashbourne's second pitch if required. Thankfully the floodlights came back on and the action resumed on the main field.
There was a setback for Ireland in the lead up to this round 2 fixture, as a concussion injury led to the late withdrawal of right winger Hannah Tyrrell. Her in the back-three was taken by Shannon's Aoife Doyle who was winning her first cap at this level.
Recent matches between these two teams have been tight affairs, and during the opening quarter in Co. Meath, it was evident that each score was going to be vital. France dominated possession early on, and the athleticism of centre pairing Elodie Poublan and Celine Heguy was causing plenty of headaches for the hosts.
Strong defensive organisation was frustrating the French whenever they did venture into the Ireland 22 though, and in spite of their industry, les Bleues were struggling to create try-scoring opportunities.
Tom Tierney's charges were also getting plenty of joy from their pack where the height of second row Reilly was proving to be a major asset in the lineout.
France had a chance to break the deadlock from a 22nd minute penalty, but full-back Tremoulière was off target from a tight right-hand angle.
Yet, Ireland immediately found themselves on the back foot again, and four minutes after her first attempt, Tremoulière once more stepped up to the kicking tee. The passionate Irish support among the 2,104-strong crowd were relieved to see her effort drifting past the posts for a second time and the longer it progressed, the more inevitable a scoreless opening period seemed.
Ireland gained a foothold in French territory as the interval beckoned but even though captain Niamh Briggs found touch from a couple of promising attacks, the 2013 Grand Slam champions were unable to make the breakthrough.
This set up an enticing second half, but just 15 seconds after the restart, the floodlights suddenly faded. With no obvious resolution, the possibility of the game switching to the club's second pitch was mooted.
Normal service was eventually resumed and the lengthy disruption proved to be of more benefit to Ireland, who attacked the visitors with ferocious intensity after play got back underway – with their back row trio of Fitzpatrick, Claire Molloy and Heather O'Brien standing out.
The 46th minute sin-binning of lock Marine de Nadai increased the pressure on France and after a brilliant lineout win by Reilly on the right, prop Egan, with support from Molloy, powered over for a superbly-crafted try from a maul just moments later.
Although Briggs' conversion attempt was wide of the mark, two years on from Ireland's magnificent success over the same opposition, there was signs that a repeat result was on the cards. They were playing with real confidence and authority, but with 64 minutes gone on the clock, Ireland suffered a hammer blow.
Boujard intercepted a Jenny Murphy pass and raced through for a try that stunned the home side. Tremoulière added the conversion in comprehensive fashion which meant that last year's Championship winners were suddenly 7-5 clear.
It was going to take a mammoth effort for Ireland to swing the pendulum back in their favour, and they were not helped by the yellow card issued to flanker Fitzpatrick eight minutes from time as tempers flared. A sweetly-struck Tremoulière penalty offered greater breathing space to the French.
During a frantic conclusion, Ireland displayed their never-say-die attitude in abundance but could not avoid an agonising home defeat. Nora Stapleton, Katie Fitzhenry and Alison Miller were all hauled down short of the line and Katie Fitzhenry, making her first international start, was unable to take advantage of an overlap on the right.
TIME LINE: 22 minutes – France penalty: missed by Jessy Tremoulière – 0-0; 26 mins – France penalty: missed by Jessy Tremoulière – 0-0; Half-time – Ireland 0 France 0; 46 mins – France yellow card: Marine de Nadai; 47 mins – Ireland try: Ailis Egan – 5-0; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 5-0; 64 mins – France try: Caroline Boujard – 5-5; conversion: Jessy Tremoulière – 5-7; 72 mins – Ireland yellow card: Paula Fitzpatrick; 73 mins – France penalty: Jessy Tremoulière – 5-10; Full-time – Ireland 5 France 10
Referee: Claire Hodnett (England)