France 13-15 Ireland, Stade de France
Johnny Sexton kicked a long-range drop goal in the final minute as Ireland snatched a 13-15 victory over France in the opening round of the Six Nations 2018 tournament at Stade de France on Saturday.
Ireland started the game with a lot of positivity that left the home side behind and forced Jacques Brunel's men to make errors. As a result, Sexton kicked a couple of penalties to take Ireland to a 6-0 lead by the end of the 21st minute.
Even though Ireland tried to create more opportunities, France showed a lot of resilience in their defence keeping them down to six points. There was also a lot of spotlight on the young fly-half Matthieu Jalibert as he felt the pressure. He initially lost an aerial battle with Rob Kearney and miscued a chip shot that handed Ireland the possession.
Jalibert was forced off the field in the 29th minute following a collision with Bundee Aki in what was a tough debut for the youngster.
France did manage to open their account following Maxime Machenaud's first penalty that came in the 35th minute but Sexton restored Ireland's six points lead heading into the half time with his third three-pointer that came in the 38th minute.
With not much difference between the two sides the second half kicked-off and it was Sexton once again, who punished France for another infringement with his fourth penalty that came in the 46th minute, even though his efforts were negated by Machenaud's second penalty that came in the 53rd minute as the difference between the two teams remained at six points.
Joe Schmidt's side were in control as the final 10 minutes kicked-off but Teddy Thomas renewed the hopes of France when he gathered a clearing kick and crossed over in the 71st minute that was improved by Anthony Belleau.
France had a 13-12 lead as the game entered the final minute and this is when Sexton displayed his brilliance with a long-range drop goal to help Ireland complete a thrilling two point victory that sees them in the second position in the table behind Wales.