France v Ireland: Women’s World Cup, Pool CFrance (21) 21Tries: Menager, Ladagnous 2 Cons: Amedee 2, IzarIreland (0) 5Try: Moloney
Hosts Ireland’s World Cup dreams were ended as three first-half tries set up France’s emphatic victory in Dublin.
An early Romane Menager try was followed by two more Caroline Ladagnous touchdowns as the French ran Ireland ragged to lead 21-0 at the interval.
Ireland produced intense second-half pressure but could only manage an injury-time Cliodhna Moloney try.
France will face England in the semi-finals in Belfast on Tuesday with Ireland now battling for fifth spot.
Ireland have no answer to France’s running game
The French went into the game as strong favourites having demolished Japan and Australia in their opening two pool games in contrast to Ireland’s narrow wins over the same opposition.
The formbook proved totally accurate as Ireland, semi-finalists three years ago, had no answer to France’s ball-in-hand running game.
The somewhat one-dimensional home side’s only attacking weapon was totally blunted by France’s decision not to contest several mauls.
Ireland produced intense second-half pressure immediately but poor handling and outstanding French defence meant the home side could not register a score until replacement Moloney’s late try.
The French won despite the sin-binning of lock Lenaig Corson but the victory may have come at a major cost as influential flanker Menager – arguably the player of the tournament so far – was forced off with an apparent injury early in the second half.
O’Driscoll watches as Irish suffer first-half blitz
With Brian O’Driscoll among the watching crowd, the match started amid a tremendous atmosphere at the UCD Bowl but France quickly went about spoiling the Irish party.
Intense early French pressure eventually yielded Menager’s seventh-minute try as she contorted herself to get the touchdown after Caroline Drouin’s run had put the Irish defence on the back foot.
Monserrat Amedee, after her earlier penalty miss, slotted the conversion and things quickly went from bad to worse for the hosts as centre Ladagnous broke through some weak tackling to score in the 13th minute after a scrum infringement had put the Irish under severe pressure.
France’s lead was pushed on to 21-0 before the half-hour mark as Ladagnous notched an outstanding team try after Elodie Poublan’s sublime offload to winger Chloe Pelle had unhinged the Irish defence.
Ireland responded with an 18-phase period of pressure but to no avail as Eimear Considine knocked on.
The Irish also appeared flummoxed by France’s decision not to contest mauls as the visitors comfortably maintained their 21-point lead to the interval.
Late try little consolation for Ireland
Corson’s sin-binning as Ireland produced intense pressure after the restart seemed to offer the hosts a potential route back into the contest but a spilled ball from scrum-half Nicole Cronin saw the French escape.
With France number eight Safe N’Diaye continuing to excel, including a couple of turnovers, the Irish couldn’t breach the opposition line as Ciara Griffin was held up in the 64th minute by more dogged defence.
The Irish remained camped deep in French territory in the closing minutes and their effort was finally rewarded by Moloney’s score in the final play.
But the try was scant consolation as France comprehensively avenged their Six Nations defeat by the Irish earlier this year.
What they said
Ireland captain Claire Molloy speaking on ITV:
“Credit to France, they ran around us in the first-half and we let them in too easily. We had too much of a mountain to climb and the French defence held strong.
“It’s disappointing but we will have to build from that. We are delighted we got the try at the end.”
France: Amédée; Pelle, Ladagnous, Poublan, Izar; Drouin, Rivolaen; Deshayes, Mignot (capt), Duval; Forlani, Corson; Ménager, Mayans, N’Diaye.
Replacements: Thomas, Arricastre, Carricaburu, Ferer, Annery, Le Pesq, Neisen, Grassineau.
Ireland: Tyrrell; Considine, Murphy, Naoupu, Miller; Stapleton, Cronin; Peat, Lyons, Egan; Spence, O’Reilly; Griffin, Molloy (capt), Fitzpatrick.
Replacements: Moloney, O’Reilly, O’Connor, Baxter, O’Brien, Muldoon, Fitzhenry, Galvin.