Rugby League European Championship: France beat Ireland to book World Cup spot

Theo Fages' superb break set up Bastien Ader's crucial third France try
St Helens player Theo Fages produced an impressive display for France
2018 Rugby League European Championship: Ireland v France
Ireland (0) 10
Tries: Ryan, McNally Con: Finn
France (18) 24
Tries: Da Costa 2, Marcon, Ader Cons: Gigot 3 Pens: Gigot

France booked a 2021 World Cup berth after overcoming Ireland 24-10 in the European Championship game in Dublin.

The win guarantees France a top-two qualification spot with next week's game against Scotland still to come.

Ireland take on Wales next Sunday for the tournament's second World Cup spot.

Tries from Alrix Da Costa, Paul Marcon and Bastien Ader put France 18-0 up at half-time. Da Costa notched another score with Ethan Ryan and Gregg McNally replying for the battling Irish.

Ader's third France try on 29 minutes was a big blow for the hosts after they had frustrated the visitors with a strong defensive effort following the early scores from Da Costa and Marcon.

France utilised their first-half wind advantage at Santry's Morton Stadium, with Ader's crucial try set up after a superb break and kick from St Helens player Theo Fages.

The French, who hammered Wales 54-18 in their opener, will secure the European title if they avoid defeat against the bottom-placed Scots in Carcassonne next Saturday.

The bottom two teams in the European Championship will have a further chance to book a World Cup spot in England when they join Italy, Russia, Spain and either Norway or Greece in a qualifying tournament late in 2019.

After their encouraging opening 36-10 over the Scots, the young Ireland side found the French a different proposition as Da Costa's close-range finish and Toulouse player Marcon's score put the visitors 10-0 ahead after only 13 minutes.

As France remained camped in Ireland's half, Tony Gigot added a penalty on 18 minutes before Ireland's defensive resolve was breached again following Fages' burst from his own penalty line, as Ader ran on to the St Helens man's clever kick.

To their credit, Ireland rallied after the break with Liam Finn's crosskick setting up Ryan to score on 44 minutes.

Aided by the wind, the same tactic almost worked on two further occasions as Ryan was held up and James Bentley then charged towards the France line on 62 minutes only to lose the ball in tackle.

However, Da Costa's second try put the match to bed a couple of minutes later before McNally's late consolation score.

Ireland squad: Michael Ward (Batley Bulldogs), Gregg McNally, Ethan Ryan (Bradford Bulls), Connor Phillips (Belfast Stags), Peter Ryan (Coventry Bears), Ed O'Keefe (Galway Tribesmen), Ronan Michael (Huddersfield Giants), Lewis Bienek (Hull FC), Gareth Gill (Longhorns RL), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford Red Devils), James Bentley (St Helens), Will Hope (Swinton Lions), Liam Finn, Scott Grix (Wakefield Trinity), George King (Warrington Wolves), Alan McMahon (Waterford Vikings), Liam Byrne, Dec O'Donnell, Jack Higginson (Wigan Warriors).

France squad: Lucas Albert, Jason Baitieri, Lambert Belmas, Alrix da Costa, Tony Gigot, Mickael Goudemand, Benjamin Jullien (Catalans Dragons), Hakim Miloudi (Hull FC), Thibaud Margalet (St Esteve/XIII Catalan), Theo Fages (St Helens), Bastien Ader, William Barthau, Bastien Canet, Rhys Curran, Paul Marcon, Anthony Marion (Toulouse Olympique), Morgan Escare, Romain Navarette (Wigan Warriors), Valentin Yesa (XIII Limouxin).

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