France open women’s Six Nations campaign with victory over Ireland

France got their Women’s Six Nations campaign off the mark with a five-try 38-17 bonus-point victory over Ireland in Le Mans on Saturday.

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Despite some hesitation, the French never looked in danger of suffering an upset, powered by a solid second-row partnership of Madoussou Fall and Manae Feleu in front of 16,000 spectators in chilly western France.

“I believe that all the teams are raising their level and we saw that today,” said France coach David Ortiz.

“The match was clearly a reflection of world rugby, the nations are getting closer. We have to work hard to stay where we want to be.”

Pauline Bourdon got the French off the mark early at the Marie-Marvingt stadium sprinting through after three minutes following a powerful maul. 

A Nicole Fowley penalty after a quarter of an hour kept the Irish in touch.

Bourdon set up Marine Menager with an inside pass for an impressive 40-metre run through the Irish defence for a second try before half-time to put the hosts 17-3 ahead.

The French continued the pressure after the break with Fall touching down but the hosts had to wait until the 63rd minute for Agathe Sochat to secure the bonus point.

A late fightback with tries from Aoife Wafer and Aoife Dalton both converted by Dannah O’Brien helped Ireland restore some pride while Elisa Riffonneau added a fifth French try.

Lina Queyroi converted four of the French tries and Morgane Bourgeois the fifth.

France, runners-up behind England last year, next play in Scotland on March 30, with Ireland hosting Italy on March 31.

(AFP)

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