Ireland were no match for the strong French side in the Six Nations defeat


There is nowhere to hide at the top tier of Test rugby and France delivered a brutal reminder by dismantling an Ireland side who were no match for their pace and power.

When your set piece collapses and you make a litany of sloppy mistakes, you’ll always go up against it. When you do this against one of the best teams in the world, there is only one outcome.

That crushing defeat in front of 11,657 fans at the raucous Stade Ernest Wallon means Ireland have never beaten France on French soil as this unwelcome losing streak now includes 10 defeats.

In truth, that record would probably never change today, but the way Ireland are doing poorly has been well below the standards they have set for themselves.

As the scrum marched backwards at an alarming rate, the line-up faltered and from then on Ireland made far too many bad mistakes.

Much of that came from France’s pressure, but far too often Ireland’s fundamentals let them down when passes went down while players were guilty of rebounding.

Ireland have committed to playing an expansive game plan under Greg McWilliams but players must learn quickly that there is a time and place to play the ball.

As the visitors repeatedly tried to play from deep, France punished naivety as they ran to Ireland’s only consolation in six tries, courtesy Eve Higgins.

There were glimpses of Ireland’s skills amid the carnage as Stacey Flood attempted to spread the ball wide with her sharp pass. Neve Jones delivered another punch on defense while Linda Djougang played the full 80 minutes for the second straight week to further highlight the worrying lack of prop depth.

Ireland need to bounce back from that humiliating experience as Italy travel to Cork next weekend for a big game for McWilliams’ side.

France full-back Caroline Drouin kicked an early penalty after Dorothy Wall was pinged for holding it.

Ireland thought they had found the perfect answer when Higgins fired under the post after nine minutes, but TMO discovered Dorothy Wall had played a French defender off the ball. It was a big disappointment for the hosts who soon came to life.

As the Irish scrum creaked, France moved the ball wide of penalty advantage while 19-year-old Six Nations debutant Melissande Llorens crossed into the corner.

It was all very ominous and once France got into gear, they were unstoppable.

Drouin took a second penalty after the Irish crowd collapsed again and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe had to be on guard with a sharp try save tackle.

That slowed the flow, however, as local Toulouse crowd favorite Laure Sansus completed an Antoine Dupont-esque break from another scrum penalty.

They like their scrum electric halves in these parts, and Sansus has shaped their class throughout this totally one-sided competition.

Trailing 16-0, Ireland’s unforced errors piled up and France ruthlessly exploited the sloppy errors.

Audrey Forlani scored her side’s third close-range try and the bonus point was wrapped up in the 37th minute when Clara Joyeux was ruled on the field to put the ball down due to the referee’s decision.

Between further damage, France were lucky not to have trapped any player for a dangerous tackle on Jones, while Sam Monaghan and Edel McMahon both threw great offloads to create line breaks, but ultimately Ireland weren’t disciplined enough to do it to endure advantage.

Ireland’s tally of handling errors had risen to 15 at half-time and with a 26-point deficit to recover there was no turning back.

McWilliams benched Christy Haney for her first cap and Beibhinn Parsons, whose first action should be penalized for a high tackle.

Ireland were guilty of running the ball off their own line and they paid the price as another scrum penalty allowed Sansus to take a similar break from the back and score. At the fifth time, Drouin added the extras to give France a 32-0 lead.

To their credit, Ireland struck back with an excellent team result as they eventually remained patient and worked their way through the stages until the gap opened in the French defence. Higgins didn’t need a second invitation to charge through and score under the post to put her side on the scoreboard.

Both benches were emptied, disrupting the flow of play, but France found their groove again and Emilie Boulard completed the defeat by scoring her side’s sixth try, which was converted by Jessy Tremouliere before Boulard dying for the yellow for a high tackle Map gained levels.

Goalscorers – France: Sansus 2 attempts, Llorens, Forlani, Joyeux, Boulard 1 attempt each, Drouin 1 Con & 2 Pens, Tremouliere 1 Con. Ireland: Higgins 1 try.

France: C Boulard; Banet C, Filopon M, Vernier G (Jacquet C 69), Llorens M; C Drouin (J Tremouliere 55), L Sansus (A Chambon 60); C Lindelauf (A Deshayes 55), L Touye (C Domain 68), C Joyeux (A Khalfaoui 55); M Fall (C Ferer 55), A Forlani; A Berthoumieu, G Hermet (Captain) (J Annery 63), R Menager.

Ireland: E Considine (B Parsons ht); AL Murphy Crowe, E Higgins, S Flood (E Breen 74), L Mulhall; N Cronin, A Reilly (K Dane 55); L Djougang, N Jones (E Hooban 55), K O’Dwyer (C Haney ht); N Fryday (Captain) (A McGann 74), S Monaghan; S Wall, E McMahon, B Hogan (H O’Connor 55).

Referee: A Barrett’s Theron (South Africa). Ireland were no match for the strong French side in the Six Nations defeat

Fry Electronics Team

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