Dream Alive

Ireland two games away from a Grand Slam after victory over France

Tom Tierney’s side beat visiting France 13-10 at Donnybrook this afternoon.

Ireland 13

France 10

Murray Kinsella reports from Donnybrook

IRELAND WOMEN REMAIN on track for a Grand Slam after a third win in three Six Nations games, following up victories over Scotland and Italy with success against France in front of 3,886 people at Donnybrook this afternoon.

Claire Molloy, Ailis Egan and Sophie Spence celebrate Leah Lyons scoring a try Ireland are still on for a Grand Slam. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

A second-half try from hooker Leah Lyons proved crucial for Tom Tierney’s side, while out-half Nora Stapleton provided eight points off the tee in a professional performance that ensured a happy ending to what has been a strange week for women’s rugby.

With Sene Naoupu, Hannah Tyrrell and Alison Miller having been pulled to go on sevens duty in Las Vegas, Ireland were missing three backline starters, but others stepped into the breach as rain fell intermittently over the Dublin venue.

Claire McLaughlin was robust in midfield alongside the always influential Jenny Murphy, while wings Kim Flood and Eimear Considine provided work rate on the wings, even in a game where possession didn’t regularly come their way.

Ireland still have a visit to Cardiff to come before they welcome England to Dublin on the final weekend of the championship, with the English leading the way at the top of the Six Nations table after three rounds, but only ahead of Ireland on points difference.

The final two rounds promise to be thrilling and the possibility of an Irish Grand Slam is there.

A silly holding penalty on Claire Molloy by French openside Romane Menager at a defensive scrum – called by the TMO – allowed Stapleton to open the scoring for Ireland after 12 minutes, soon after the out-half had hit the right post with her first shot at goal.

Claire Molly tackled by Gaelle Mignot Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Though Ireland had territorial dominance for much of the opening half, they couldn’t extend that lead and had to deal with some 22 pressure of their own heading into the interval.

Captain Paula Fitzpatrick was sin binned for dragging down a maul, but Ireland survived the brief onslaught and won a scrum penalty to take them into half time with their 3-0 advantage intact.

With the skies opening up again in the second half, an early error from Tierney’s side proved costly, with Sophie Spence and Marie Louise Reilly losing the ball in contact outside the Irish 22, allowing France scrum-half Jade le Pesq to counter-attack.

The recycled ball was shifted right and Elodie Poublan released centre partner Caroline Ladagnous into clear space to sprint over for the opening try, converted by fullback Jessy Tremouliere.

Ireland’s reply was swift, as their impressive lineout and maul got rumbling again, first drawing a yellow card for Marjorie Mayans.

With Fitzpatrick back from her binning, Ireland then produced an instant try as Reilly claimed in the middle of a five-metre lineout and popped down to the back pod, where Lyons arrived to steer the maul over.

Ireland team huddle ahead of kick off Ireland in the changing room at Donnybrook before kick-off. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Stapleton’s conversion put Ireland 10-7 in front, with the introduction of Larissa Muldoon off the bench providing snappy service, as Stapleton’s tactical kicking game began to pin the French into their own half.

The Ireland out-half popped over a penalty as the game entered the final quarter, but Tremouliere replied swiftly for 13-10.

With France’s discipline rapidly deteriorating, however, lock Lenaig Corson was yellow carded in the 74th minute and invited Ireland to close out their third victory of the championship.

Ireland scorers:

Tries: Leah Lyons

Conversions: Nora Stapleton [1 from 1]

Penalties: Nora Stapleton [2 from 3]

France scorers:

Tries: Caroline Ladagnous

Conversions: Jessy Tremouliere [1 from 1]

Penalties:  Jessy Tremouliere [1 from 1]

IRELAND: Mairead Coyne; Kim Flood, Jenny Murphy, Claire Mc Laughlin, Eimear Considine; Nora Stapleton, Mary Healy (Larissa Muldoon ’51); Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons, Ailis Egan; Sophie Spence, Marie-Louise Reilly; Ciara Griffin (Ciara Cooney ’68), Claire Molloy, Paula Fitzpatrick (captain) (yellow card ’39 to ’49).

Replacements not used: Ciara O Connor, Ilse Van Staden, Ruth O’Reilly, Nichola Fryday, Nikki Caughey, Louise Galvin.

FRANCE: Jessy Tremouliere; Camille Grassineau, Caroline Ladagnous, Elodie Poublan, Shannon Izar; Camille Cabalou (Marine Menager ’40 to ’41, permanent ’51), Jade le Pesq; Lise Arriscastre (Annaelle Deshaye ’67), Gaelle Mignot (Caroline Thomas ’72), Julie Duval (Patricia Carricaburu ’67); Lenaig Corson (yellow card ’74), Audrey Forlani (Céline Ferer ’67); Marjorie Mayans (yellow card ’50 to ’60), Romane Menager (Laetitia Grand ’72), Safi N’Diaye.

Replacements not used: Yanna Rivoalen, Lucille Godiveau.

Referee: Sara Cox [RFU].

Attendance: 3,886.

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