The big lock was given his marching order in the first half

In an opening half that had already gotten tough for hosts France as Ireland put punishing phases together and totted up a couple of tries, it was made all the more alarming as the Marseille crowd saw Paul Willemse red-carded for a second yellow card offence.

The Montpellier lock saw yellow firstly for a high shot on Ireland prop Andrew Porter, who went off for a head injury assessment (HIA). It went to the bunker and was not upgraded to a red – with fans treated to the novelty of hearing the referee’s decision over the tannoy. However the relief was short-lived when he came back to the fold.

With half an hour gone, he received a second yellow, when he went in high on Caelan Doris. And as soon as referee Karl Dickson began the process by mentioning yellow, that had to be the minimum outcome. and of course, a second yellow results in a red, so Willemse walked.

After half-time, Dickson also informed the crowd that the second yellow would have been upgraded to a red anyway.

France had been second best for much of the first half, with Ireland scoring twice (through scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and lock Tadhg Beirne). But with Willemse permanently removed, it gave France something of a jolt. With momentum and a penalty in their favour, a quick-thinking Peato Mauvaka hammered onto ball quickly and quick as, it was worked to an on-rushing Damian Penaud, who got the hosts their first try, to make it 10-17 at half-time.

Seeing Willemse red-carded may have galvanised them, but with a player down (at least) for the second 40, it is a big ask against a side as dynamic as Ireland.

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