France too strong for new-look Ireland in Toulouse
A night to forget for Ireland women as French claim bonus-point win at Stade Ernest Wallon
Ireland’s Ciara Griffin is tackled by France’s Celine Ferer during the Women’s Six Nations Championship match at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
France 24 Ireland 0
It was a night to forget for Ireland in Toulouse, as they suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of France in their Women’s Six Nations opener.
This game represented the dawn of a new era for Ireland, following the retirement of several key players and the appointment of interim head coach Adam Griggs.
While Leinster winger Megan Williams was the sole debutant in their starting line-up, France were the odds-on favourites to maintain their perfect home record against Ireland. Fullback Trémoulière’s early penalty rebounded off the posts, but after she combined effectively with Pauline Bourdon, Montpellier winger Banet stepped inside from the right wing for a sixth-minute try.
With their opponents already dictating play, Ireland needed to establish some territory of their own. The returning Niamh Briggs found touch with a brace of close-range penalties, but Les Bleus eventually claimed their second try on 25 minutes.
Bourdon’s crossfield ball was gathered by Caroline Boujard – who released Le Pesq for a superb score underneath the posts.
Trémoulière supplied the extras on this occasion, before crossing over from a subsequent attack to give France a 17-0 interval lead. This left Ireland with a lot of ground to cover, although they did find themselves on the front-foot when the action resumed.
They lost Ciara Cooney to injury just before the hour mark, and with Ciara O’Connor indirectly replacing the Railway Union secondrow, there was a significant reshuffle in the Irish pack.
In her absence, Ireland worked hard to halt France’s quest for a fourth try, before Le Pesq completed the scoring with a neat finish in the right corner on 72 minutes.
FRANCE: J Trémoulière; C Boujard, J Le Pesq, C Boudaud, C Banet; P Bourdon, Y Riovalen; L Arricastre, A Sochat, J Duval; C Ferer, S N’Diaye; M Mayans, G Hermet, R Ménager.
Replacements: M Ménager for Boujard (46 mins); G Mignot for Sochat, P Carricaburu for Duval (both 50); D Traore for Arricastre, A Forlani for Fere (both 54); G Venier for Riovalen, C Diallo for R Ménager (both 59); E Coudert for Banet (72).
IRELAND: K Flood; M Williams, C McLaughlin, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Briggs, A Hughes; L Peat, C Moloney, F Reidy; C Cooney, O Fitzsimons; A Caplice, C Molloy, C Griffin.
Replacements: N Fryday for Fitzsimons, P Fitzpatrick for Caplice (both 45 mins); L Lyons for Reidy (50); C O’Connor for Cooney, M Healy for Hughes (both 57); M Coyne for Flood, N Caughey for Briggs, L Feely for Peat (all 75).
Referee: I Tempest (England).