Camille Boudaud fends off Briggs. Bryan Keane/INPHO

Powerful France hold Ireland Women to nil

Les Bleus put Ireland through a severe opening Six Nations Test.

France Women 24

Ireland Women 0

IT WAS A battling, but bitterly disappointing start to the Six Nations from Ireland as they were unable to register a point against a powerful French side in Toulouse.

Many of Ireland’s tormentors from the August World Cup humbling in UCD were present for Les Bleus and they didn’t take long to assert their dominance and eliminate any doubt that Ireland’s winless run away to France was set to continue.

Imposing lock Safi N’Diaye was continually a destructive carrying force and laid the platform for a back-line with impressive attacking verve and Ireland’s defence, led by former captains Niamh Briggs and Claire Molloy, was unable to prevent a sweeping sixth-minute attack from yielding a try for Cyrielle Banet who crossed in the corner for her first Test try.

In the 25th minute the deficit doubled, another excellent collective move from Les Bleus stretching Ireland’s defence and making space for centre Jade Le Pesq to raid and touch down.

Cyrielle Banet and Alison Miller Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Fullback Jessy Trémoulière knocked over that conversion, but was unable to split the posts with her other two first-half conversion efforts. It mattered little though, as Trémoulière and out-half Pauline Bourdon constantly worried Ireland with evasive running and slick passing to keep Adam Griggs’ side on the back foot.

It was 17-0 come half-time. A last-ditch, try-saving tackle from Kim Flood typified the efforts of Ireland on a tough away assignment. Ultimately, the gutsy tackle counted for little as France swiftly reloaded and slick hands put Trémoulière in.

Ciara Griffin checks on Ciara Cooney as she is stretchered off Ciara Griffin consoles Ciara Cooney as she gets stretchered off. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

The second half was all about chasing a bonus point for France, but to Ireland’s credit, they did manage to make that task a scrappy one despite the worrying sight of second row Ciara Cooney being stretchered off before the hour.

The visitors’ best moment of the second 40 was a tenacious kick and chase from debutant Megan Williams, which saw her regain possession 10 metres out from the try-line. The cavalry arrived and the recycles were promising, but a spill from Flood eased the pressure.

Jade Le Pesq and Megan Williams Jade Le Pesq attempts to evade Megan Williams. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Williams was to the fore again minutes later at the other end, chasing down Cyrielle Bane. But the spark lit France’s flair again and the bonus point came after a scything angle from Trémoulière was followed up by a superb back-handed offload from Audrey Forlani to put Le Pesq in for her second.

Ireland pushed on into the closing minutes, hoping to force their way onto the scoreboard and avoid the dreaded ‘nil’. But a handling error once again cut the attack short and so they left Toulouse without a point of any kind to show for their efforts.

FRANCE WOMEN: Jessy Trémoulière (Stade Rennais Rugby); Caroline Boujard (Montpellier RC), Jade Le Pesq (Stade Rennais Rugby), Camille Boudaud (Stade Toulousain), Cyrielle Banet (Montpellier RC); Pauline Bourdon (AS Bayonnaise), Yanna Rivoalen (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois); Lisa Arricastre (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées), Agathe Sochat (Montpellier RC), Julie Duval (L’Ovalie Caennaise), Celine Ferer (AS Bayonnaise), Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier RC), Marjorie Mayans (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), Gaelle Hermet (Stade Toulousain) (capt), Romane Ménager (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois).

Replacements: Gaelle Mignot (Richmond RFC), Dhia Traore (Stade Toulousain), Patricia Carricaburu (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées), Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), Coumba Diallo (AC Bobigny 93), Emma Coudert (ASM Romagnat Rugby Féminin), Gabrielle Vernier (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois), Marine Ménager (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois).

IRELAND WOMEN: Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster); Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht); Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/ Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt).

Replacements: Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht), Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s/Leinster), Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht), Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht).

Referee: Ian Tempest (England)

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