France and Ireland will at last lock horns at the Stade de France on Sunday with the hosts being warned that they must start with a bang if they are to keep alive their dreams of a Grand Slam.
Coach Philippe Saint-Andre has guided the French to two wins in their first two games but he was concerned by their lethargic start last Sunday against Scotland which saw them having to rally from 10-0 down to eventually prevail 23-17.
They will face an Irish side who have only beaten them once in their last 12 meetings and are seeking their first win in Paris since a hat-trick of tries by Brian O'Driscoll inspired the visitors to victory on St Patrick's Day in 2000.
However, unlike when the first game was called-off at the last minute last month, the Irish come in on the back of a 42-10 victory over Italy, having opened their campaign with a heartbreaking last minute 23-21 home defeat by Wales.
Saint-Andre, who replaced Marc Lievremont after the 8-7 World Cup final defeat by the All Blacks, was pleased by the manner in which the French kept their cool and fought back against the Scots.
But he accepts that to let the Irish build up a similar head of steam would be fatal.
"In the Scottish game we were too tame at the beginning, we lost too many balls in the rucks, especially in the first half-hour, and missed too many tackles," said the France coach.
"What we really need to change is that we have to hit the ground running from the kick-off and not sleepwalk through the opening 20 minutes like we did against Italy and Scotland.
"If we do that against the Irish, it will not go well for us at the Stade de France."
Veteran back row forward Imanol Harinordoquy is determined to see an improved performance from the line-out otherwise they face a torrid time from Irish second row greats Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan.
"I take responsibility for that (the poor display against the Scots) because I was captain of the line-out," said 32-year-old Harinordoquy, who has his sights set on a remarkable fourth Grand Slam.
"I was too focussed on the patterns and calls we had made during the week leading up to the match and I was unable to adapt when they played a different pattern at some line-outs.
"We came under a lot of pressure in this area. We had already done a lot of work in the lead-up to the Irish game (the one called-off last month) as to their line-out habits but perhaps it is best to leave it more to intuition on the day."
Ireland for their part are also keen to put on a better first-half show than they have done so far having given Wales the initiative and allowing Italy to pretty much match them for the opening period before pulling away.
O'Connell, who is captaining Ireland for the Six Nations in place of the injured O'Driscoll, is desperately keen to experience what it is like to win in Paris after five losing visits.
However, the 32-year-old Munster lock believes that if the Irish can eradicate their habit of giving up tries to the hosts then they can go on and win in Paris for only the second time since 1972.
"Maybe we've tried a little bit too hard in the past," he said.
"In the first half-hour against Italy last weekend it wasn't a great performance, but we were patient.
"Against France we must play in the right parts of the pitch.
"A big part of it for us will be eradicating those errors that can cost you momentum. You have to take you best game over there.
"If we play to our potential we can beat anyone, but reaching that level is the challenge."
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