Returning Tremouliere helps France maintain their 6 Nations charge

Returning Tremouliere helps France maintain their 6 Nations charge

France maintained their hopes of retaining their Women's Six Nations title by powering to a bonus-point win away to Ireland.

Needing a win to stop leaders England from clinching the title, the reigning champions ran in four tries before the break in their latest show of strength.

Caroline Thomas, Ian Jason, Lise Arricastre and Caroline Boujard all crossed in the first-half, with Romane Ménager, Audrey Forlani and Marine Ménager adding further efforts in the second period.

The returning Jessy Trémoulière also contributed 12 points with the boot as Annick Hayraud's outfit picked up their third win in four matches.

A hat-trick hero in Round One, the in-form Thomas was first to strike, the hooker crashing over for a score following good work from the French driving lineout.

But roared on by a vociferous home crowd in Donnybrook, Ireland responded just six minutes later through captain Ciara Griffin.

Picking the ball up off the base of the scrum, the flanker surged for the line, evading three French tackles to finish.

Once again, though, France stepped up a gear. Boujard's brilliant break was eventually recycled to Jason, who finished in the corner to increase the gap to nine points.

Claire Molloy and Arricastre traded powerful scores, before the electric Boujard pounced on a kick forward to seal a first-half bonus point for the holders.

The second half followed much the same pattern, No.8 Romane Ménager finishing out wide on 46 minutes following a series of impressive carries from her fellow forwards.

But Ménager's evening was to take a turn for the worse on the hour when she was dismissed for a swinging arm while carrying the ball.

With a player advantage, Ireland rallied again, and centre Sene Naoupu finished wide right to cap a period of dominance from the hosts.

But late tries from replacements Forlani and Ménager saw France reassert their dominance, setting up an intriguing final weekend in the process.

England remain in control, needing only a win against Scotland at Twickenham for the Grand Slam, but if they slip up, France will look to pounce as they prepare to travel to Italy.

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