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France's 14 too strong for Ireland

Despite being down to 14 players for most of the game, France powered to a 53-3 win in Cork.

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France responded to Annaelle Deshaye's 20th-minute red card with a splendid spread of tries - nine in all - to spoil Ireland's return to Musgrave Park in the TikTokWomen's Six Nations.

Prop Deshaye's shoulder made 'direct contact to the head' of Deirbhile Nic a Bháird, with Dannah O'Brien's subsequent penalty - her first Six Nations points - briefly reducing the arrears to 10-3.

But that was as close as the hosts could get as 14-woman France used their greater levels of experience, pace and power to earn a 53-3 bonus point win and a record Championship winning margin against Ireland.

France clinically exposed a frail Irish defence with livewire scrum half and player-of-the-match Pauline Bourdon touching down twice in five minutes. She also supplied the assist for Gabrielle Vernier's 35th-minute effort.

The blue attacking wave left Greg McWilliams' side trailing 27-3 at half-time - with French captain Audrey Forlani and Caroline Boujard their earlier try scorers - and they tagged on four more tries before the finish.

Agathe Sochat (54 minutes), Cyrielle Banet (58), Vernier (70) and Charlotte Escudero (74) all crossed the whitewash, the latter two scores coming after Ireland's young full-back Méabh Deely was sin-binned.

The girls in green put in a much-improved start at their Cork base, their defensive solidity allowing them to build through strong carries from Linda Djougang, Dorothy Wall and Grace Moore. Teenage out-half O'Brien was also distributing well.

However, once France reached the Irish 22, their physicality up front delivered points. Forlani and Escudero both made big busts, the pack driving closer before Forlani reached over comfortably in the eighth minute.

Bourdon missed the conversion and also slid her second kick wide on the near side, with Ireland skipper Nichola Fryday unfortunate that the ball went forward from her lineout steal in between those two opening tries.

Carla Arbez's well-placed kick found grass and the covering Natasja Behan was exposed by an awkward bounce, which allowed the inrushing Boujard to nudge the ball through and gather it to score.

With their scrum looking rock solid, Ireland went close to responding towards the end of the opening quarter. Aoife Dalton broke a tackle in midfield and Molly Scuffil-McCabe sniped from a ruck to reach the French 22.

Fryday and Sam Monaghan led the carrying closer in, but the French defence held them at bay before O'Brien was isolated by hooker Sochat for an important turnover near her own posts.

Les Bleues soon lost Sochat's front row colleague, Deshaye, for the remainder of the game. She caught the excellent Nic a Bháird with a high shot that had no mitigation according to referee Hollie Davidson and her fellow match officials.


O'Brien claimed the three points on offer and also showed her growing confidence with a 40-metre kick to touch, yet a high number of missed tackles continued to hamper Ireland.

Arvez collected her own kick over the top, Marine Menager punched some holes as she increased her influence in attack and then Forlani sprung clean through from a ruck, offloading for Bourdon to finish off under the posts.

Full-back Morgane Bourgeois took over the kicking duties on her debut, converting for a 17-3 lead, and Bourdon then bagged a 31st-minute bonus point, raiding over from the right after charging down an O'Brien kick.

France were carving Ireland open at will now, slick centre Vernier taking a hard line off a maul to brush past O'Brien and she collected Bourdon's return pass to register try number five at pace.

Having scrambled before the interval to deny Banet what would have been a try of the Championship contender, McWilliams' charges drew more encouragement from an early scrum penalty in the second half.

Vernier's hard work at the breakdown meant some promising carrying from the Irish back row went unrewarded, and they continued to edge that battle on the ground despite their opponents having more possession.

That changed approaching the hour mark as from their first visit of the half to Ireland's 22, the French pack drove Sochat over. Bourgeois added the extras to put 31 points between the teams.

A similar score was on the cards just minutes later, but it fell to Bourdon's replacement Alexandra Chambon to send out a bouncing pass for winger Banet to go over untouched in the right corner.

Banet was the victim of a hair pull with 11 minutes remaining, prompting Deely's yellow card. The Gaëlle Mignot and David Ortiz-coached visitors swiftly took advantage, nice hands getting the ball wide for Vernier to complete her brace.

The conversion was nailed from the right by replacement Jessy Trémoulière, France's strength in depth clear to see as their scrum put on a dominant 74th-minute shove for number 8 Escudero to move them past the half-century mark.

Ireland's replacements did offer some late spark, particularly Lauren Delany with her angles of running, while there were debuts given to IQ Rugby scrum half Emma Swords and front rowers Kathryn Buggy and Clara Nielson.

TIME LINE: 8 minutes - France try: Audrey Forlani - 0-5; conversion: missed by Pauline Bourdon - 0-5; 12 mins - France try: Caroline Boujard - 0-10; conversion: missed by Pauline Bourdon - 0-10; 20 mins - France red card: Annaelle Deshaye; 21 mins - Ireland penalty: Dannah O'Brien - 3-10; 26 mins - France try: Pauline Bourdon - 3-15; conversion: Morgane Bourgeois - 3-17; 31 mins - France try: Pauline Bourdon - 3-22; conversion: missed by Morgane Bourgeois - 3-22; 35 mins - France try: Gabrielle Vernier - 3-27; conversion: missed by Morgane Bourgeois - 3-27; Half-time - Ireland 3 France 27; 54 mins - France try: Agathe Sochat - 3-32; conversion: Morgane Bourgeois - 3-34; 58 mins - France try: Cyrielle Banet - 3-39; conversion: missed by Morgane Bourgeois - 3-39; 69 mins - Ireland yellow card: Méabh Deely; 70 mins - France try: Gabriele Vernier - 3-44; conversion: Jessy Trémoulière - 3-46; 74 mins - France try: Charlotte Escudero - 3-51; conversion: Jessy Trémoulière - 3-53; Full-time - Ireland 3 France 53

IRELAND WOMEN: Méabh Deely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht); Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC/Munster), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Vicky Irwin (Sale Sharks/Ulster), Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster); Dannah O'Brien (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster); Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster), Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht) (capt), Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby), Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster), Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby), Deirbhile Nic a Bháird (Old Belvedere RFC/Munster).

Replacements used: Emma Swords (Harlequins/IQ Rugby) for Scuffil-McCabe, Anna McGann (Railway Union RFC/Connacht) for Irwin (both 50 mins), Sadhbh McGrath (City of Derry RFC/Cooke RFC/Ulster) for Haney, Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster) for Moore (both 56), Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby) for Doyle, Hannah O'Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster) for Fryday, Kathryn Buggy (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby) for Djougang (all 72), Clara Nielson (Exeter Chiefs/IQ Rugby) for Jones (75).

FRANCE WOMEN: Morgane Bourgeois (Stade Bordelais); Cyrielle Banet (Montpellier Hérault Rugby), Marine Menager (Montpellier Hérault Rugby), Gabrielle Vernier (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), Caroline Boujard (Montpellier Hérault Rugby); Carla Arbez (Stade Bordelais), Pauline Bourdon (Stade Toulousain Rugby); Annaelle Deshaye (Stade Bordelais), Agathe Sochat (Stade Bordelais), Clara Joyeux (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), Manae Feleu (FC Grenoble Amazones), Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) (capt), Axelle Berthoumieu (Blagnac Rugby Féminin), Emeline Gros (FC Grenoble Amazones), Charlotte Escudero (Blagnac Rugby Féminin).

Replacements used: Coco Lindelauf (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) for Berthoumieu (24 mins), Gaëlle Hermet (Stade Toulousain Rugby) for Gros, Jessy Trémoulière (ASM Romagnat Rugby Féminin) for Arbez (both 50 mins), Assia Khalfaoui (Stade Bordelais) for Joyeux (56), Alexandra Chambon (FC Grenoble Amazones) for Bourdon (57), Marie Dupouy (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) for Menager (59), Elisa Riffoneau (Stade Rennais Rugby) for Sochat (63), Maëlle Picut (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) for Forlani (66).

Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)