Saturday 19 October 2019

French make class tell to put Ireland to the sword

Ireland 17 France 47

France’s Romane Menager. Photo: Ramsey Cardy
France’s Romane Menager. Photo: Ramsey Cardy

Ireland suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of an impressive French side in a round four Women's Six Nations encounter at Donnybrook last night.

Despite Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy and Sene Naoupu crossing over for Adam Griggs' charges, they fell to their third reversal of the tournament - and a second in succession.

After Irish lock Nichola Fryday was sin-binned for an illegal challenge on opposite number Audrey Forlani, French hooker Caroline Thomas rounded off a lineout maul for a third-minute try.

Ireland's woes were further compounded by Jessy Tremouliere's conversion, but their initial response to this setback was impressive.

Though Alison Miller was held up just short of the line, skipper Ciara Griffin broke free of the resulting scrum for a superb five-pointer.

Les Bleus subsequently fired back through winger Ian Jason, only for Adam Griggs' side to once again display their mettle.

On her 68th senior international appearance, flanker Claire Molloy burst through a half-gap to secure Ireland's second try. Place-kicker Nicole Fowley made amends for a wayward opening effort by reducing the Irish deficit to two (12-14) on the first-quarter mark.

While Ireland were firmly back in the reckoning, France maintained a potent threat in attack. Yanna Rivoalen released loosehead Lise Arricastre for their third try and the visitors sealed a bonus point with a clinical Caroline Boujard finish.

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At 28-12 adrift at the break, Ireland were back under intense pressure when the action resumed.

They did their utmost to halt the latest French surge, but Romane Menager ultimately touched down for a 46th-minute score.

It proved to be a mixed evening for the No 8, as she was sensationally red-carded on the hour for leading into Griffin with her non-tackling arm.

With a host of players already introduced off the bench - including Galway teenager Beibhinn Parsons, who joined debutante Enya Breen in the back line - Ireland immediately increased their attacking tempo.

Following a quick transition out of a ruck, Ellen Murphy and Eimear Considine combined to set up Sene Naoupu for a simple try on the right-flank.

Despite their numerical deficiency, however, France had the final say courtesy of Forlani and Marine Menager five-pointers in the dying moments - keeping their titles hopes alive for another week.

Ireland will now look to finish the Championship on a positive note when they face Wales at Cardiff Arms Park next Sunday.

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