Women's Six Nations 2015: Ireland 5-10 France
|Ireland 5 (0)|
|France 10 (0)|
|Tries: Boujard Con: Tremouliere Pen: Tremouliere|
Defending champions France made it two wins out of two in this year's Six Nations with a narrow victory over Ireland in Ashbourne.
The first half ended scoreless after a fine rearguard action by the hosts and there was a 40-minute delay at the start of the second half after the floodlights failed.
Ireland were much improved after play eventually resumed and Claire Molloy went over in the corner to give the hosts the lead.
But an interception try by Caroline Boujard and two successful goal-kicks by Jessy Tremouliere won it for the visitors, despite a late surge by Ireland.
France, who also beat Ireland by small margins in last year's Six Nations and the World Cup third-place play-off, came into the match having thrashed Scotland 42-0 last weekend.
But Tom Tierney's Ireland, who beat Italy 30-5 in Florence in their opening match, were made of much sterner stuff.
That said, Ireland were put under intense pressure by the powerful French pack in the early stages, visiting number eight Safi N'Diaye weighing in with some bullocking carries off the back of the scrum.
But some sturdy defence by the hosts, with Molloy to the fore at the breakdown, ensured France were unable to convert their possession and significant territorial advantage into points.
France did nearly break the deadlock when full-back Tremouliere pulled a penalty attempt across the face of the posts, but wing Julie Billes was unable to gather the loose ball just short of the try-line.
It took the hosts almost 20 minutes to enter France's half, and when they did the visitors came trundling back in the form of a devastating rolling maul.
But some questionable decision-making from the French backs, who too often opted to kick when keeping the ball in hand seemed like the better option, repeatedly let Ireland off the hook.
Ireland finished the first half on the front foot and could have taken a surprise lead after Tremouliere was unable to cling on to a high kick from Nora Stapleton. However, a penalty kick to the corner came to nothing.
The second half began in high farce when the floodlights failed not once but twice, leading to a lengthy hiatus while a solution was sought.
At one stage the match was going to be moved to an adjacent pitch, where the floodlights were still working. But eventually the offending generator was fixed and the action resumed on the intended field of play.
Ireland resumed where they left off in the first half and when hooker Gillian Bourke stole a third scrum against the head - no mean feat in a retreating scrum - the hosts made the most of it, Molloy crashing over in the corner from the resulting attack.
But the momentum swung back towards France when winger Boujard took a chance and ran in an interception try, totally against the run of play. Tremouliere kicked the conversion to give the visitors the lead for the first time.
Ireland flanker Paula Fitzpatrick was sent to the sin-bin with seven minutes remaining and Tremouliere punished her indiscretion with a sweetly-struck penalty to extend France's lead to five points.
Ireland assailed France's line with wave after wave of attacks in the dying moments but butchered a number of clear-cut opportunities to steal the game.
France, who have won their last eight Six Nations matches, host Wales in Montauban in a fortnight's time, while Ireland host world champions England.
Ireland: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt); Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen); Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Gillian Bourke (Olympico de Pozuelo), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O'Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements used: Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster) for Muldoon (54 mins), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster) for O'Reilly (66).
Not used: Sarah Mimnagh (Wasps/Exile), Fiona O'Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary's/Leinster), Katie Norris (Blackrock/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht).
France: Jessy Tremoulière (Romagnat); Caroline Boujard (Perpignan), Elodie Poublan (Montpellier), Céline Héguy (Bayonne), Julie Billes (Perpignan); Camille Cabalou (Bayonne), Yanna Rivoalen (Lille-Villeneuve d'Ascq); Lise Arricastre (Lons), Gaëlle Mignot (Montpellier) (capt), Julie Duval (Ovalie Caennaise), Manon André (Blagnac-Saint-Orens), Marine de Nadaï (Montpellier), Coumba Tombe Diallo (Stade Bordelais), Laetitia Grand (Lons), Safi N'Diaye (Montpellier).
Replacements used: Pauline Rayssac (Montpellier) for Grand (35 mins), Céline Ferer (Bayonne) for de Nadai (68), Laura Delas (Tarbes) for Boujard (80).
Not used: Wendy Divoux (Perpignan), Elodie Portaries (Montpellier), Cécilia Saubusse (Bordeaux), Carla Neissen (Blagnac-Saint-Orens), Christelle Chobet (Perpignan).
Referee: Claire Hodnett (England)