Ireland 15-56 France: Rampant French set-up Women's Six Nations final with England

By Michael MorrowBBC Sport NI
Women's Six Nations
Ireland (8) 15
Tries: Moloney, Hooban Con: Flood Pen: Tyrrell
France (38) 56
Tries: Boujard 2, Boulard, penalty try, N'Diaye, Banet 2, Menager Cons: Drouin 4 Pens: Drouin 2

France will meet England in next weekend's Six Nations final after a thumping 56-15 victory over Ireland.

Five tries in the first 40 minutes saw the visitors all-but secure the win by half-time, with only Cliodhna Moloney crossing in response for the Irish.

Further scores from Caroline Boujard, Romane Menager and Cyrielle Banet saw France pass the half century of points.

Ireland will meet either Scotland or Italy next Saturday in a battle for third and fourth place.

France entered the game in Dublin as strong favourites to secure top spot in Six Nations Group B, although the manner of Ireland's impressive win over Wales last week had suggested they might provide a sterner test than in recent meetings between the sides.

The opening exchanges of the game suggested as much, with Ireland edging a scrappy first 10 minutes but wasting some good territory through a high penalty count and a number of handling errors.

France too were struggling to find their flow but once Boujard went over in the corner from a perfectly-executed set-piece move, any doubts among the visitors disintegrated.

France celebrate
France's previous record points total in Dublin was 38

For the remaining 25 minutes of the first half the French looked dangerous all over the pitch, even in defence. After knocking Ireland back through multiple phases, the ball was stripped allowing Emilie Boulard to run onto a kick in behind and ground the ball.

Curiously Ireland's only respite came during the spell in which they were down to 14 players with Aoife McDermott in the sin-bin for collapsing a maul that resulted in a penalty try.

Moloney barged over from close range to inject a glimmer of hope back into Ireland's cause, but the door was slammed shut shortly after with Safi N'Diaye and Banet adding further first-half scores to emphatically reassert France's authority.

Familiar gap to top sides as evident as ever

Having not played since last October, Ireland's return to competitive action last week was thoroughly impressive as they swept aside Wales.

However, Saturday's resounding defeat in Dublin was a stark reminder of a gap that is arguably widening between themselves and the top sides in the competition.

Where England and France benefit from a professional structure, Ireland do not, and the different levels were further emphasised as France, who made eight changes from their first game, utilized their bench to extend their lead.

Wing Boujard crossed for her second score of the game, following her hat-trick against Wales on the opening weekend, before replacement Menage bulldozed her way down the right flank for another score.

Banet exploited yet more space on the edge for France's eighth and final try before Ireland ended on a positive note with replacement hooker Emma Hooban crossing from a driving maul.

'We're on a journey' - what they said

Ireland captain Ciara Griffin: "We won't lie, it is a disappointed dressing room but you should look at the bigger picture now.

"We have next weekend and as I said to the girls the recovery and preparation starts now.

"This group is on a journey, we've a bigger picture and we have evolved. We need to finish strong and we've a big summer ahead of us too.

"This is all part of that, we just want to get up each step and up to that top."

Ireland: Eimear Considine; Laura Delany, Eve Higgins, Sene Naoupu, Beibhinn Parsons; Hannah Tyrrell, Kathryn Dane; Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Linda Djougang; Aoife McDermott, Nichola Fryday; Dorothy Wall, Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Katie O'Dwyer, Laura Feely, Brittany Hogan, Hannah O'Connor, Emily Lane, Stacey Flood, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.

France: Emilie Boulard; Caroline Boujard, Carla Neisen, Jade Ulutule, Cyrielle Banet; Caroline Drouin, Laure Sansus; Annaelle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Rose Bernadou, Madoussou Fall, Safi N'Diaye, Marjorie Mayans, Gaelle Hermet, Emeline Gros.

Replacements: Laure Touye, Mailys Dhia Traore, Clara Joyeux, Coumba Diallo, Romane Menager, Pauline Bourdon, Morgane Peyronnet, Gabrielle Vernier.

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