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Ireland Women Suffer Narrow Defeat

Ireland Women Suffer Narrow Defeat

Ireland’s late flourish was not enough as France held out for victory in the Women’s RBS 6 Nations clash at Ashbourne RFC on Friday.

Full-back Niamh Briggs starred for the hosts against a high quality French side, claiming a late try and conversion, but the visitors held out for their second win of the Championship.

France, who hammered Scotland in their opening game, had a lot of the early pressure and were rewarded for their endevours with a sixth minute penalty for a scrum offence. Centre Sandrine Agricole fired over from in front of the posts.

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The French worked tirelessly throughout the opening half, but Ireland's defence stood up to the task. The likes of Briggs, Mairead Kelly, Joy Neville and Lynne Cantwell made crucial plays for Philip Doyle's charges.

Ireland fell further behind when they leaked Agricole converted her second penalty in 19th minute, but the girls in green bounced back superbly.

New winger Niamh Kavanagh lifted the large home support with a well-taken 21st minute try, stretching over in the right corner for her second try in as many games.

The score came after out-half Nora Stapleton's kick had deceived French full-back Caroline Ladagnous, and Kavanagh showed impressive skill to hack through and get the touchdown.

Briggs missed a difficult conversion and a subsequent penalty, but Ireland were right back in the hunt at half-time, trailing 6-5.

France were back on the attack after the restart. Ladagnous was just inches away from grabbing the visitors' first try in the 44th minute, but her opposite number Briggs came to Ireland's rescue.

France remained camped in the hosts' half for much of the third quarter. Ireland's disciplined defence gave them little room to manoeuvre in. Agricole missed a penalty after tempers flared between the players.

But Ireland were caught out, with 17 minutes remaining, when French prop Christelle Chobet drove over from five metres out. A 74th minute penalty from replacement Aurelie Bailon then made it 14-5.

Ireland showed great resolve to press hard for a late score and their efforts were rewarded. Into injury-time, Briggs struck from close range to touch down on the left and add the conversion.

However, the Irish were unable to conjure up a match-winning drop goal, which ended their hopes of a second Six Nations victory over France in three years.

Referee: Federica Guerzoni (Italy)