Briggs try not enough in brave Irish fightback
A second-half try from powerful prop Christelle Chobet denied Ireland what would have been a famous victory in Ashbourne RFC last night.
France had Philip Doyle's side on the back foot early on, and relentless pressure led to the Irish scrum conceding a penalty in front of the posts on six minutes, which was easily dispatched by centre Sandrine Agricole.
Ireland did respond well, but it was France who scored next, with another penalty from Agricole after 19 minutes.
At this point, things were very much going according to plan for the French, but they were soon brought crashing down to earth when a long kick by Old Belvedere's Nora Stapleton deceived French full-back Caroline Ladagnous, leaving winger Niamh Kavanagh with plenty of room to kick the ball towards the try line before touching down.
Niamh Briggs missed a difficult conversion, and also a penalty on 33 minutes, but Ireland finished the half as the dominant side, as they went in trailing 6-5.
Now fully aware of the capabilities of this Irish team, France came out refocused for the second half, though they were frustrated by some staunch resistance. However, they finally got through on 65 minutes when Chobet drove over from five metres.
The French lead increased with a 74th-minute penalty from Aurelie Bailon, which looked like it had put Ireland out of reach.
However, the hosts staged a courageous comeback in the final few minutes, and they were rewarded with a try in the left corner from Niamh Briggs, which she brilliantly converted herself.
Though this was too late to salvage a victory, it will give Ireland plenty of confidence heading into their remaining games.
IRELAND -- N Briggs (UL Bohemians); N Kavanagh (UL Bohemians), L Cantwell (Richmond), G Rea (Highfield) (J Shiels (Richmond) 77), M Kelly (UL Bohemians); N Stapleton (Old Belvedere), A Davis (Blackrock) (L Muldoon 73); F Coghlan (UL Bohemians), G Bourke (Bristol), L Day (Waterloo), ML Reilly Old Belvedere), L Guest (Highfield), C Staunton (Galwegians) (H O'Brien77), C Molloy (Bristol), J Neville (UL Bohemians).
FRANCE -- C Ladagnous; L Fourcade, E Poublan, S Agricole (A Baillon 73), D Aguerre; N Casenave, M A Yahé; L Arricastre (H Ezanno 52), L Salles (G Mignot 52), C Chobet (C Barthelemy 75), S Rabier (M Loyez 75), C Bouisset, K Djossouvi (M De Nadai 75), M C Hebel, A Ba.
Ref -- F Guerzoni (Italy)