Ireland 17 France 47
Ireland suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of a ruthless French side in the Women's Six Nations at Donnybrook on Saturday.
Despite Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy and Sene Naoupu crossing over for Adam Griggs's charges, they fell to their third reversal of the tournament – and a second in succession.
"We knew the challenge that was ahead of us. We had such great fight and such great heart, but France are a class team as well," Ireland prop Fiona Reidy remarked after the game. "We were unlucky in some instances and there are other things we need to improve upon.
“When you play a quality opposition like France and you give them opportunities like that, they’re going to punish you. That’s where we need to raise our standard to now.”
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 set-back was impressive. Though Alison Miller was held up just short of the line, skipper Griffin broke free of the resulting scrum for a superb five-pointer.
Les Bleus subsequently fired back through winger Ian Jason, only for the home side to once again display their mettle. On her 68th senior international appearance, flanker 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) at the end of the first quarter.
While the hosts appeared to be back in the reckoning, Lise Arricastre and Caroline Boujard touched down to give France a commanding 28-12 interval advantage.
French No 8 Romane Menager increased the gap with a fifth try on the restart, before she was sensationally red-carded for leading into Griffin with her non-tackling arm. With a host of players already introduced off the bench, Ireland immediately increased their attacking tempo.
Following a quick transition out of a ruck, Ellen Murphy and Eimear Considine combined to set up 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.
Ireland will now look to finish the Championship on a positive note on Sunday week, when they face Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.
SCORERS – Ireland: C Griffin, C Molloy try each, N Fowley con. France: C Thomas, I Jason, L Arricastre, C Boujard, R Menager, A Forlani, M Menager try each, J Tremouliere 6 cons.
IRELAND: L Delany; E Considine, E Breen, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Fowley, K Dane; L Feely, D Nic a Bhaird, F Reidy; A McDermott, N Fryday; C Griffin, C Molloy, C McLaughlin.
Replacements: L Peat for Feely (46 mins), B Parsons for Miller (50), E Murphy for Fowley, L Djougang for Reidy, A Caplice for McLaughlin (all 55), N Cronin for Dane (64), E Hooban for Nic a Bhaird (68), C Boles for Fryday (70).
FRANCE: J Tremouliere; C Boujard, Y Yengo, G Vernier, I Jason; P Bourdon, Y Rivoalen; L Arricastre, C Thomas, C Joyeux; C Ferer, A Forlani; G Hermet, C Tombe Diallo, R Menager.
Replacements: D Maylis Traore for Arricastre (53 mins), C Pelle for Joyeux (64), E Coudert for Rivoalen (65), M Soloch for Thomas (70), M Menager for Tremouliere (72), L Bobo for Ferer, C Imart for Yengo (both 76).
Referee: I Tempest (England).