19.30 – Hello and welcome to this evening’s coverage of France against Ireland.
19.37 – Here are the teams for this evening:
FRANCE: Traille, Clerc, Marty, Mermoz, Palisson, Trinh-Duc, Yachvili, Marconnet, Szarzewski, Ducalcon, Pierre, Millo-Chluski, Dusautoir, Harinordoquy, Lakafia.
REPLACEMENTS: Guirado, Poux, Nallet, Bonnaire, Parra, Skrela, Medard.
IRELAND: Kearney, Trimble, Earls, P. Wallace, Fitzgerald, O’Gara, Reddan, Healy, Best, Ross, O’Callaghan, Cullen, Ryan, O’Brien, Leamy.
REPLACEMENTS: Flannery, Buckley, Heaslip, Murray, McFadden, Jones.
19.42 – Let’s hope this a better game than last week’s dour 10-6 loss to Scotland.
19.46 – Of course, it hasn’t all been about rugby this week for the Irish team, as this somewhat cringeworthy ad attests. Let’s hope their performance is better than some of players’ driving.
19.50 – Ireland start the game off on the backfoot and France take a deserved 3-0 lead.
19.54 – Vincent Clerc – Ireland’s perpetual tormentor – is almost in, but Rob Kearney makes a try-saving tackle. Ireland look nervous.
19.56 – Rory Best had lost possession following a strong tackle, giving France the chance to break.
19.58 – Ireland engage too early in the scrum and are penalised. They still don’t seem to have sorted out their problems from the Six Nations in that area.
19.59 – Ireland dropping too many balls and giving possession away far too easily. They need to show some composure or France will run away with this game.
20.01 – FRANCE 6-0 IRELAND: Traille gets an easy drop-goal, straight in front of the posts, following another sustained period of French pressure.
20.05 – FRANCE 13-0 IRELAND: Vincent Clerc, who always seems to score against Ireland, does so again with an opportunistic try. Yachvili converts. Ireland need to wake up. They’ve barely been in the French half yet.
20.07 – Excellent kick from Trinh-Duc to avert the danger, after Ireland launch a rare foray into French territory.
20.09 – Another less impressive kick from Trinh-Duc, gives Ireland a line-out inside the French 22, which they subsequently lose.
20.12 – Score is in fact, 10-0 to France. Apologies.
Typically excellent catch from Rob Kearney helps get Ireland out of danger, but another mistake – this time a knock on – means it’s a French scrum on the halfway line.
20.16 – Yachvili has just kicked a penalty. Now it really is 13-0 to France.
20.19 – So far, excuses being made by RTÉ commentary for Ireland’s dismal performance include the heat, the second-string lineup and our historically poor record against France.
20.21 – Like our game with Scotland last week, Ireland have had very little possession in this match. This is up there with our worst displays in the Six Nations.
20.23 – The positives so far? At least it’s only 13-0 to France.
20.24 – Intelligent kick from Paddy Wallace. France have a line-out in their 22.
20.26 – Line-out is well-cleared by France, and Trimble does well to catch the clearance under pressure. France’s defence has been rock solid so far.
20.29 – HALF-TIME – FRANCE 13-3 IRELAND: O’Gara has just got Ireland’s first points on the board with a penalty from just inside the France half, right before the half-time whistle blows. All things considered, Ireland will be very happy to go in with that scoreline.
20.32 – I can’t see Declan Kidney taking many positives from that first-half performance. There will be a few players who may have done their World Cup prospects some harm.
20.37 – Will we see Jamie Heaslip in the second half? Ireland could do with his driving runs to liven things up a bit.
20.40 – The lads in the RTÉ studio reckon Ireland are kicking the ball away too much, and that they should use the bench immediately in order to give the side any sort of hope in this game.
20.43 – So one-and-a-half poor performances in preparation for the World Cup so far. Are we looking at another 2007-esque disaster?
20.45 – Second half is underway. No changes from either side. And no change in the game, as Ireland again are forced to defend in their 22.
20.47 – More nervy moments for Ireland, as France knock on with the Irish try line inches away.
20.49 – Brilliant run from Rob Kearney, before he is eventually tackled when confronted by three French players. Kearney has been the best of a bad bunch so far.
20.51 – Rob Kearney has just been replaced by Felix Jones. Commentator’s curse perhaps?
20.52 – FRANCE 13-6 IRELAND: O’Gara kicks his second successful penalty from two attempts. Better from Ireland.
20.54 – Considering how poorly Ireland have played, it’s remarkable that they are only now seven points behind.
20.58 – Ireland substitutions: O’Connell, Heaslip and Buckley are on for Cullen, Healy and Leamy.
FRANCE 13-9 IRELAND – O’Gara gets another penalty. Is it a great comeback from Ireland, or France taking their foot off the pedal?
21.03 – FRANCE 13-12 IRELAND: O’Gara keeps up his 100% kicking record and is certainly staking his claim for a starting berth at the World Cup.
21.04 – Great take by O’Connell from a line-out. The Munster man is already making a difference.
21.06 – More Irish substitutions: Flannery for Best and Murray for Reddan.
21.09 – Ireland win another penalty from the line-out and O’Gara, for once, hits it slightly to the right of the post. This is like an entirely different game to the one in the first half.
21.11 – Sean O’Brien with a sloppy knock on. Not the first time he’s done that tonight.
21.12 – Another France sub: Bonnaire for Harinordoquy.
21.14 – FRANCE 16-12 IRELAND: Ireland’s scrum again lets them down, as they concede a penalty. Yachvili, who has hardly put a foot wrong all night, converts.
21.17 – France are coming into this game once more, as Healy comes on again for an injured Mike Ross.
21.18 – FRANCE 19-12 IRELAND: Luke Fitzgerald takes out Medard and gives away a penalty, which Yachvili duly converts.
21.20 – Fergus McFadden has to kick out of play under pressure, to give France a line-out in Ireland’s 22.
21.25 – So close. Keith Earls goes for the try but the ball eludes him after he chooses to kick five metres from the French try line.
21.26 – Ireland have a scrum five metres out, but they give away a penalty again. Ireland’s scrum has been dismal all night, as it was in the Six Nations.
21.27 – Less than a minute to go. France will win this game, barring a miracle.
21.30 – FULL TIME – FRANCE 19-12 IRELAND: They waste yet another set piece and with that, the referee blows his final whistle.
21.31 – Well that’s that then. So as Jerry Springer might say: what did we learn from today?
21.32 – I suppose if Declan Kidney just ignores the entire first half, he can be fairly happy with his side’s performance.
21.35 – The positives? The second half comeback, the opportunity to give youngsters like Murray some game time, and decent performances from some of Ireland’s established players such as O’Gara, Kearney and O’Connell.
21.37 – The negatives? Well, according to George Hook, Tony Buckley, Paddy Wallace, and Luke Fitzgerald are all overrated.
21.38 – I think it’s safe to say though, that two things have not changed since the Six Nations: the side’s inconsistency and the ineptitude of their scrum.
21.41 – All in all, some signs of encouragement for the World Cup, but Ireland have yet to really justify the fact that they are fifth favourites to win the tournament.
21.43 – Ultimately though, France deserved their win, mainly because Ireland’s first half display was so poor.
21.45 – Well, that’s all folks. Thanks for reading. All that drama and excitement and not once did I resort to the cliche of rugby being a game of two halves, as it patently was this evening. Good night!