Le Pesq double fires France Women to bonus-point win over Ireland
By Paul Eddison www.sixnationsrugby.com
France Women laid down a marker as Jade Le Pesq scored two tries in a bonus-point 24-0 win over Ireland in Toulouse in their Women's Six Nations opener.
Les Bleues finished third at last year's World Cup, as they did in last year's Six Nations, and they wanted to go better this year, making the perfect start as they ran in four tries in total.
Cyrielle Banet got them on the board after just six minutes, before Le Pesq added the second.
Jessy Trémoulière got the third try, along with two conversions before Le Pesq wrapped up the bonus point seven minutes from time.
France had the better of the opening exchanges and after an early missed penalty they took the lead. Breaking into the Irish 22, they were then able to spread the ball wide to the right to put Banet into space and she broke through two tackles to force her way over.
Trémoulière was off-target with the conversion and instead it was Ireland who reclaimed the momentum and set up camp on the French line.
A try seemed on the cards but the French defence held, and then out of nowhere they were over. From a lineout the ball came to fly-half Pauline Bourdon who went to the boot for a cross-kick. Caroline Boujard raced up, the ball bounced kindly and she then found Le Pesq inside her. The centre showed all her pace to race away and then dot down behind the posts for the easy conversion. Trémoulière's extras made it 12-0.
Bourdon was impressing in her Championship debut, and her break and offload to Marjorie Mayans had France on the front foot again. Yanna Rivoalen was hauled down just short but they were able to recycle to put Trémoulière over for a 17-0 lead at the break.
The start of the second half was relatively even before a lengthy delay after Ciara Cooney suffered a knee injury after an unfortunate fall in a lineout.
France needed one more try and had a couple of great chances, one when Bourdon got away down the left, and then when Banet raced 70 metres but was dragged down just short of the line after what looked like being a wonder try.
There was still time for a final try though, Le Pesq, who had by this point shifted to both scrum-half and then the wing, popping up to claim a brilliant offload from Audrey Forlani after Trémoulière's initial break.