Ireland comeback falls just short
Ireland 12 France 14: A SECOND-HALF try from powerful prop Christelle Chobet denied Ireland what would have been a famous victory in their first home encounter of 2011 in the RBS Women’s Six Nations in Ashbourne RFC last night.
France, who were so impressive in their demolition of Scotland, had Philip Doyle’s side on the back foot early on, and relentless pressure led to the Irish scrum conceding a penalty in front of the posts on six minutes, dispatched by centre Sandrine Agricole.
Ireland did respond, but France scored next, another penalty from Agricole after 19 minutes.
At this point, things were going according to plan for the French, but they were soon brought down to earth when a long kick forward by Old Belvedere’s Nora Stapleton deceived fullback Caroline Ladagnous, leaving wing Niamh Kavanagh with plenty of room to hack ahead before touching down.
Niamh Briggs did miss a difficult conversion, and a penalty on 33 minutes, but Ireland finished the half the dominant side, as they went in trailing 5-6.
France came out refocused, though the Ireland defence was remarkably staunch.
Once again though, France eventually broke them down and on 65 minutes Chobet drove over from five metres.
A 74th-minute penalty from Aurelie Bailon looked like it had put Ireland out of reach.
But Ireland staged a comeback and were rewarded with a try in the left corner from Briggs, which she then brilliantly converted.
IRELAND: N Briggs; N Kavanagh, L Cantwell, G Rea, M Kelly; N Stapleton, A Davis; F Coghlan, G Bourke, L Day, ML Reilly, L Guest, C Staunton, C Molloy, J Neville. Replacements: L Muldoon for Davis (73 mins), H O’Brien for Staunton, J Shiels for Rea (both 77 mins).
FRANCE: C Ladagnous; L Fourcade, E Poublan, S Agricole, D Aguerre; N Casenave, MA Yahé; L Arricastre, L Salles, C Chobet, S Rabier, C Bouisset, K Djossouvi, MC Hebel, A Ba. Replacements: G Mignot for Salles, H Ezanno for Arricastre (both 52 mins), A Baillon for Agricole (73 mins), C Barthelemy for Chobet, M Loyez for Rabier, M De Nadai for Djossouvi (all 75 mins).
Referee: F Guerzoni (Italy).