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Ireland crowned Six Nations champions

Ireland have been crowned the 2013 Women's RBS Six Nations champions.

After their 15-10 win over France at Ashbourne RFC and England's win over Italy, the title is theirs for the first time in their history.

This historic state of affairs comes after Ireland seized the initiative in the second half at foggy Ashbourne, edging out France 15-10 in a thrilling top of the table clash.

That gave the girls in green a clear lead at the top of the table, boasting eight points after completing their first ever Triple Crown and beating the French who are now out of the title race in second (four points).

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was among the crowd of over 3,000 who packed Ashbourne RFC. They were treated to another terrific advertisement for the women's game as the Championship's two leading sides went toe to toe.

Ireland had to do it the hard way, defending furiously as the wind-backed French attacked with vigour and Sandrine Agricole nudged them ahead from a well-struck seventh minute penalty.

The heavier French pack tried to set the tone, but Ireland had done their homework and defended magnificently. French no 8 Safi N'Diaye, who had done so much damage to England two weeks ago, was effectively neutralised - her attempts to breakaway from the scrum snuffed out by two or three Irish players whenever she had the ball. 

The French held the advantage for the opening 10 minutes or so, but were rocked when a fast-packed attack by Ireland saw Alison Miller break down the left. After she was tackled the ball was quickly recycled to no 8 Joy Neville, who brilliantly released Niamh Briggs for the game's opening try.

The full-back was unable to convert her own try and within minutes France had swept into a 10-5 lead, which they held until the interval, Agricole converting from near the touchline after a close-in effort from hooker Gaëlle Mignot.

Turning around with the wind behind them, Fiona Coghlan and her team-mates enjoyed a better share of possession in the third quarter and they made immediate headway with prop Ailis Egan muscling over after a strong spell of rucking and carrying from the forwards.

Briggs managed to add the extras as the lead changed hands again, and France had to show discipline in defence as the Irish battered forward in search of more tries.

France hung in there as the crowd raised the noise level in support of Ireland. Les Bleues missed a drop goal and it was left to Briggs to notch the match-winning score, firing over a late penalty after she had struck the post with a similar effort just minutes earlier.

Ireland Women Scorers
Tries: Niamh Briggs, Ailis Egan; Con: Niamh Briggs; Pen: Niamh Briggs
France Women Scorers
Try: Gaëlle Mignot; Con: Sandrine Agricole; Pen: Sandrine Agricole

Ireland Women Lineup
Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Mowden Park Sharks/Exile), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Exile), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements: Stacey-Lea Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lauren Day (Waterloo/Exile), Leigh Dargan (Saracens/Exile), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Amy Davis (Blackrock College/Ulster), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster). (N Kavanagh for Baxter (65), G Davitt for Murphy (75), L Guest for Fleming (82). )

France Women Lineup
Caroline Ladagnous (Lons); Julie Billes (Perpignan), Marjorie Mayans (Saint Orens), Lucille Godiveau (Rennes), Elodie Guiglion (Perpignan); Sandrine Agricole (Rennes), Marie Alice Yahé (Perpignan); Hélène Ezanno (Rennes), Gaëlle Mignot (Montpellier), Elodie Portaries (Montpellier), Sandra Rabier (Ovalie Caennaise), Marine De Nadaï (Montpellier), Coumba Tombe Diallo (Bobigny), Laetitia Grand (Lons), Safi N'Diaye (Montpellier).
Replacements: Laetitia Salles (La Valette), Assa Koïta (Bordeaux), Christelle Chobet (Lons), Lenaig Corson (Rennes), Manon André (Saint Orens), Jessy Trémoulière (Romagnat), Aurélie Bailon (Montpellier), Jade Le Pesq (Rennes). (C Chobet for Portaries (h-t), L Salles for Mignot (59), M Andre for Grand (63), J Le Pesq for Ladagnous (67), J Tremoulliere for Billes (69). )

Referee: Nicky Inwood (New Zealand)