CARDIFF, Wales (AFP) - Sean O'Brien inspired Ireland to a pulsating 24-9 win over France in their Pool D decider on Sunday that condemned the French to a quarter-final against defending champions New Zealand.
Ireland now take on Argentina in the last eight, but suffered a massive blow with injuries to Jonny Sexton, captain Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony.
O'Brien was a lion in the scrum and a constant menace to Les Bleus who were never able to impose their flair-filled game on their opponents.
The French must now prepare for a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final the All Blacks won by a single point.
Key pivot Sexton kicked two early penalties for the Irish before going off, his replacement Ian Madigan kicking one of his own as Scott Spedding booted two long-range efforts to keep France in the game at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.
The Six Nations champions scored two second-half tries through Rob Kearney and Connor Murray, Madigan adding a conversion and late penalty. France's sole points in the second period came from a Morgan Parra penalty.
Two well-drilled defensive lines that failed to panic in the face of firestorm attacks meant any show of ill-discipline was critical.
Frederic Michalak scuffed a first penalty attempt in the sixth minute, almost rectified when Ireland were penalised for collapsing a scrum, the South African-born Spedding seeing his 48-metre kick come back off the post.
Sexton made no mistake with a 12th-minute penalty to draw first blood after Mathieu Bastareaud was ajudged to have strayed offside.
Spedding drew France level with a long-range effort before Sexton booted his second penalty.
Discipline was proving to be key and when Peter O'Mahoney went high on Guilhem Guirado, Spedding nailed a monster penalty from 51 metres to make it 6-6 after 22 minutes.
Worringly for Ireland, Sexton was on the end of two ferocious tackles in the first quarter, the second bone-cruncher from revived No 8 Louis Picamoles resulting in the fly-half limp off to be replaced by Madigan.
The newcomer immediately calmed Irish nerves with a penalty of his own after Pascal Pape tackled Tommy Bowe without the ball and then orchestrated a fine midfield move.
Bowe scorched through on a reverse ball and perfectly played out the two-on-one situation in front of him, Keith Earls unable to hold on to the ball with the line beckoning. A clear missed opportunity for Ireland in the face of France's Thierry Dusautoir-led teak-tough defence.
Spedding thought he was in at the stroke of half-time, some desperate defence shoring up the blindside just in time.
But there was more bad news for Ireland as Toulon-bound skipper O'Connell was given oxygen as he was stretchered off after injuring his knee in a previous ruck.
Ireland opened the second period keen to convert their first-half domination of territory and possession into points.
Centre Robbie Henshaw became more and more influential as the game wore on, managing to split the French defence to set up a scrum in the corner.
Bowe charged and from a series of pick and go's, the ball was worked right to Rob Kearney who rode Michalak's half-hearted tackle to dot down, Madigan failing with the conversion.
Momentum was with the men in green, Iain Henderson dropping the ball as they pressed unrelentlessly in their search for a second try, the French defence looking increasingly ragged.
Replacement scrum-half Parra pulled back three points for France but Ireland had not finished, Murray crossing from close-range after another O'Brien drive for the line.