VICTORIES over France are rare and treasured and Ireland could not hide their bitter disappointment yesterday after a performance that, in most respects, deserved a triumphant reward.
Once again, Ireland's efforts were crippled by their high error count and, despite outscoring the French by three tries to one, ultimately, that was the cause of defeat.
"We know we had too many turnovers," said Ireland coach Declan Kidney. "We had three tries to one and we still lost the match.
"We'll have to take a look at the penalties and see which ones are under our control. We need to get those things right.
"They (mistakes) are uncharacteristic but there is a big step up between Test rugby and Heineken Cup and Magners League level.
"What we need to do is to keep playing this way and get used to it at Test level because I believe it is the right way forward for us.
"There is no point in crawling away and trying to play a damage-limitation game; that won't get us anywhere. It's not going to win us anything at the end of the day. We need to get better at doing what we are doing.
"When you look at all the people who have paid to get in or staying at home, they are looking for us to get a win. An improved performance means that you are not in the doldrums but at the same time we want to win it and I think we would be hiding behind something if we were to do anything else," said Kidney.
Brian O'Driscoll has played in some heavy defeats to France over the past 12 seasons but the agony of coming so close tends to be more acute and the Ireland captain was visibly deflated afterwards.
"We had a chance, three minutes to go, down in their green zone, 10 yards from the line; they were scrambling and we coughed up the ball," said O'Driscoll.
"We coughed up ball too easily. The big thing is that when we scored tries, we took them through a number of phases.
"When you turn it over after three or four it is so difficult to get any momentum. The chance was definitely there for us to take it and we didn't. That is a bitter pill to swallow."
With mistakes crippling Ireland's efforts in their first two Six Nations outings, O'Driscoll said players need to address their own displays and that changes are required when standards fall below the required levels.
"Guys have to go back and look at their individual performances," he said.
"You are going to have to up your game or be replaced. They're the blunt facts of the matter. We have a very good squad and if you don't produce performances, there is someone there. It's about fronting up or the possibility of missing out."
France coach Marc Lievremont and his captain Thierry Dusatoir were understandably happier than their Irish counterparts after holding on under extreme pressure, but the French coach said they will have to improve before taking on the only other unbeaten side, England, next time out.
"I would say performance-wise we were four out of 10," said Lievremont. "But for spirit, it was 10 out of 10."