FRANCE KEPT their cool to achieve victory over Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, but coach Marc Lièvremont admitted that he experienced “moments of absolute panic” as they fought to suppress the home side’s comeback in the dying minutes of the match.

Ireland put in an improved performance from the one that saw them defeat Italy the previous weekend, and they put the visitors under pressure for the full 80 minutes. Jamie Heaslip’s try in the 68th minute took the score to 22-25, and Keith Earls’s chip deep into France’s half gave the home fans hope that there may yet be another score in Ireland’s locker still to come. But France’s desperate defence held firm and a second last minute victory in as many weeks was not to be.

Marc Lièvremont praised his players’ spirit and composure as they fought to shut Ireland out, but said there are still plenty of improvements that need to come from his team. “There were lots of good moments, but we weren’t well paced, and they put pressure on us for the full 80 minutes, as well as scoring two tries against us,” said Lièvremont.

“The match ended with a very dangerous situation for us and the final scrum was very stressful, but we were able to control it. The Irish could have won, but we managed to come through in the end.”

Captain Thierry Dusautoir admitted that the team hadn’t always responded well to the pressure they came under at the Aviva Stadium today. Ireland’s first try and second try-scoring chance came after just five minutes of play,  but he praised the composure of the team, dispelling any thoughts of an unhappy French camp.

” The message from the first 10 minutes was that we needed to react immediately,” said Dusautoir. “Our game management would only score 5/10, but our spirit would score 10/10. We didn’t respond well to the pressure of the situation at the start of the game, but the solidarity within the team is certainly a positive we can take from this game.”

Lièvremont is already thinking about their next game – France head to Twickenham to take on England – despite the two-week break. England are the only other unbeaten side in the championship and are enjoying some great form, and Lièvremont said: “I already have a headache looking towards England. They’re looking confident and have great physicality as well as acceleration. They’re ahead of everyone else.”

Ireland head to Murrayfield next to take on winless Scotland in a game they must look to win to regain their confidence, and keep their hopes of winning the tournament alive.