IRELAND survived a late France rally to secure a critical RBS Six Nations victory at the Aviva Stadium.
Keen to run the ball from deep early on Ireland made a positive start hitting the front in the 14th minute courtesy of a Johnny Sexton penalty.
Camille Lopez replied with a penalty for France, but Sexton added two more to edge Ireland 9-3 ahead by the 33rd minute.
France were proving to be rugged, though, as Lopez trimmed the gap again before Sexton’s fourth penalty ensured Ireland went in at the interval armed with a 12-6 advantage.
Replacement Ian Madigan and Sexton added further penalties during a tense second half as Ireland led 18-6 entering the final 10 minutes.
With Rory Best in the sin bin France pounced for a 71st minute try from Romain Taofifenua, but Lopez failed to convert from an acute angle.