Charles Ollivon admitted he breathed a huge sigh of relief when he saw Antoine Dupont win the crucial turnover in France’s Guinness Six Nations Round 2 win in Dublin.
Les Bleus looked to be on course for a comfortable win at the Aviva Stadium when Damian Penaud went over for their second try shortly before the hour to make it 15-3.
But a try from Ronan Kelleher and five points from the boot of Ross Byrne got Ireland right back in it, and they got the ball back for one final attack at the death.
Ireland went through the phases but the French defence forced them backwards and in the end it was Dupont who got in to steal the ball and seal the 15-13 win.
Ollivon, who had crossed in the first half for Les Bleus, said: “In the 80th minute it was hard in terms of keeping our heads but we didn’t give an inch once again. There was relief when I saw that we had got the ball back. We kept on with our tasks, we kept on with our tackles, we kept on with the collisions.
“And of course, when the ball was kicked out there was a huge sigh of relief. Physically it was very tough, there were lots of big hits today and I thought we stood and were counted, so we’re very happy for everyone this evening.”
France had not won in Dublin for a decade, and looked nervy early on with their lineout struggling and Ireland piling on the pressure with their kicking game.
But the visitors defended well and took their chance when it came, Ollivon on hand to cross on the left after a wonderful break full of deft offloads down the right.
Penaud’s second-half score was also well-worked and for coach Fabien Galthié, there was a lot of emotion at the way the team had battled for the win.
He added: “In these matches there is always a lot of emotion, especially when it finishes positively. You relax a little and think about what is important, particularly our sport, our mindset to give the right energy to those watching on TV, those who love our sport in these circumstances. We try to give some sense to what we do and it’s true that we are moved.”