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Battling Ireland fall to defeat in Six Nations opener

Ireland opened their Women’s Guinness Six Nations campaign with a 38-17 defeat to France, but they produced a performance that was a marked improvement on last season’s loss.

It was new head coach Scott Bemand’s first taste of championship action and while Ireland were ultimately outclassed by a superior opposition, there were moments of real promise ahead of next Sunday’s home clash with Italy.

Lineout woes re-emerged, however, and a couple of defensive lapses led to first-half French tries as Ireland struggled to deal with the superb scrum-half Pauline Bourdon Sansus, who scored the first and set up the second try.

Three lineout-maul tries followed in the second half for the hosts to put the result beyond doubt, but Aoife Wafer and Aoife Dalton scored late tries to give Ireland some consolation.

More to follow

France: Emilie Boulard; Kelly Arbey, Nassira Konde, Gabrielle Vernier, Marine Menager; Lina Queyroi, Pauline Bourdon Sansus; Annaelle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Assia Khalfaoui; Manae Feleu (capt), Madoussou Fall; Charlotte Escudero, Gaelle Hermet, Romane Menager.

Replacements: Elisa Riffonneau, Ambre Mwayembe, Clara Joyeux, Kiara Zago, Emeline Gros, Alexandra Chambon, Lina Tuy, Morgane Bourgeois.

Ireland: Lauren Delany; Katie Corrigan, Eve Higgins, Aoife Dalton, Béibhinn Parsons; Nicole Fowley, Aoibheann Reilly; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Christy Haney; Dorothy Wall, Hannah O’Connor; Aoife Wafer, Edel McMahon (capt), Brittany Hogan.

Replacements: Sarah Delaney, Niamh O’Dowd, Sadhbh McGrath, Fiona Tuite, Grace Moore, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Dannah O’Brien, Méabh Deely.

Referee: Kat Roche (USAR)

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