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France win opening Six Nations match despite a defiant defensive half from Ireland in Le Mans

CORK, IRELAND: APRIL 1: Pauline Bourdon #9 of France is congratulated by teammates after scoring a try from her own charge down during the Ireland V France, Womens Six Nations Rugby match at Musgrave Park on April 1st, 2023, in Cork, Ireland. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The opening round of the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations kicked off with France emerging 38-17 winners over Ireland in Le Mans.

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Last year’s runners-up scored five tries at Stade Marie-Marvingt to ignite their championship campaign with Pauline Bourdon Sansus, Marine Ménager, Madoussou Fall, Agathe Sochat, and Élisa Riffonneau all on the scoresheet.

Lina Queyroi was perfect from the tee for France, contributing 11 points to their scoreline before Morgane Bourgeois came on to add their final points of the match.

WXV 3 winners Ireland started their Six Nations with a positive defensive performance in the opening 40 minutes but were unable to cross the whitewash until the 70th minute when Aoife Wafer scored their first, followed minutes later by Aoife Dalton.

Bourdon Sansus scored France’s first try with two minutes played after she spotted a gap to dot down under the posts in the home side’s first visit to the Ireland 22.

Fixture
Womens Six Nations
France Women's
38 - 17
Full-time
Ireland Women's
All Stats and Data

A solid defensive effort from Ireland kept Les Bleues at bay in the minutes that followed; and the visitors then capitalised on French errors to get themselves on the board through a Nicole Fowley penalty in the 14th minute.

Scott Bemand’s side rallied again to deny France further fruitful opportunities with another impressive defensive display scattered with glimpses of positive attack, keeping the home side on seven points as inaccuracies additionally plagued their chances of a second score.

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After almost 30 scoreless minutes for France, they added to their lead as Ménager, who made the most metres in the opening half (109), ran in their second try after linking up with Bourdon Sansus to finally break down the defiant Irish defence.

France went into the break with a 17-3 lead as a late penalty from Queyroi completed their first-half efforts.

Les Bleues returned from the changing rooms determined to get more points on the board, and they did so after seven minutes as Fall muscled over the line under the sticks to score her side’s third try.

Debutante Kelly Arbey emphatically crossed the line for what would have been the bonus point for France in the 55th minute, but an earlier forward pass in the build-up meant the score was chalked off.

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While Arbey had been denied, France’s bonus point was not as they went on to score their fourth try just past the hour mark when Sochat dotted down from a powerful maul to bolster their convincing lead.

Ireland scored their first with ten minutes left on the clock when 20-year-old Wafer powered to the line, set up well by Linda Djougang to secure a well-earned reward for their efforts.

France had time to score one more before the final whistle as Trailfinders’ Riffonneau crossed from the maul to provide their fifth and final try.

While France took the victory, Ireland had the last word as Dalton applied excellent pressure to score their second try and reduce the gap between the two sides before 80 minutes was up, converted again by Dannah O’Brien as she had with their first.

The home side will next face Scotland in Edinburgh on the 30th March, while Ireland go on to face Italy the day after.

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