Ireland's Sene Naoupu tackled by France pair Elodie Poublan and Lucile Godiveau. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Second best

Ireland's women lose out to the French in front of 11,158 in Perpignan

The Girls in Green were defeated 18-6 in the Six Nations tonight.

France 18

Ireland 6

IRELAND’S WOMEN’S SIX Nations defence took a blow after being defeated by a dogged French side in front of a magnificent crowd at USA Perpignan’s home ground –the Stade Aimé Giral.

The recent history between the two sides added an extra edge to the fixture.

Although they lost to France in Ashbourne during their 2015 Six Nations campaign, the Irish eventually won the championship on points difference and Les Bleus were out to seek revenge.

An extremely well-organised and physical French outfit showed their statement of intent after an initial opening quarter where both sides were getting a feel for each other.

With the French camped two metres from the Irish line and their maul in good shape captain and hooker Gaëlle Mignot crashed over for the first try of the evening. Abadie failed to add the extras.

Less than five minutes later wing Caroline Boujard scored a stunning intercept try. This time Abadie nailed the conversion, taking the score to 15 points to 3.

However, Ireland did not wilt and after some good scrummaging that built a platform for the backs, referee Jess Beard from New Zealand awarded a penalty right in front of the posts, which Briggs slotted over to claw to back within nine points of the hosts.

The score remained 15-6 going into the interval.

Niamh Briggs leads out her team The teams walk out at the Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Bouyed by a crowd of 11,158 strong, the French had a chance to further pull away less than four minutes into the second half but Abadie missed the penalty.

Despite sustained French pressure at the fifty-minute mark, the Irish defence and, in particular, the forwards showed great tenacity.

Minutes later, it looked as if the French may finally get their breakthrough but they were held at bay by Trojan work from the likes of Sophie Spence and Paula Fitzpatrick.

An electric break from replacement Les Bleus back row Julie Annery led to what the vocal home side thought would be a try but it was disallowed for hands in the ruck.

However, Beard called France back for a penalty which wing Laura Delas comfortably kicked from 10 metres out.

The Girls in Green yet again demonstrated their persistence as they secured possession in the opposition 22 but some handling errors scuppered their chances.

With La Marseillaise ringing out from the stands in the final moments of the match, the Irish continued to press for the try that had eluded them all night with some stellar work from replacements such as outhalf Nora Stapleton and prop Lindsay Peat.

When Beard awarded a penalty in extra time, Ireland opted to tap and go but to no avail as the just as determined hosts nullified the threat.

Niamh Briggs kicks a penalty Niamh Briggs kicks a penalty. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The final score of 18-6 did not reflect the Irish effort, although it was simple errors such as not protecting possession of the ball that cost them dearly in the end.

Scoring sequence:
5mins: A Abadie pen, 3-0; 14mins: N Briggs pen, 3-3; 20mins: G Nignot try, 8-3; 23mins: C Boujard try, 13-3; 25mins: A Abadie con, 15-3;
32mins: N Briggs pen, 15-6; Half-time
69mins: L Delas pen, 18-6.

FRANCE: J Billes; C Boujard, L Godiveau, E Poublan, L Delas; A Abadie, Y Rivoalen; L Arricastre, G Mignot(capt), J Duval, C Ferer, A Forlani, L Grand, P Rayssac, Safi N’Diaye.

Replacements: Ait Lahbib for Arricastre (at 52mins), Menagerie for Forlani (at 54mins), Carricaburu for Duval, Sansus for Rivolen (both at 57mins), J Annery for Rayssac (at 60mins), Imart for AAbadie (64 mins),
A Sochat for G Mignot (74mins).

IRELAND: N Briggs (capt); E O’Byrne White, A Donnelly, Sene Naoupu, M Coyne; N Caughey, L Muldoon; R O’Reilly, C Moloney, A Egan, S Spence, M L Reilly, P Fitzpatrick, C Molloy, H O’Brien.

Replacements: L Peat for R O’Reilly, C Griffin for H O’Brien (both at 47mins), N Stapleton for NCaughey (66 mins), Z Grattage for C Moloney (70 mins) F Reidy for A Egan (74mins).

Referee: Jess Beard (New Zealand).

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