Caroline Boujard took her try tally for the Championship to five from two games as France recorded a big win in Ireland to set up a mouth-watering clash against England for the 2021 Women’s Six Nations title on Super Saturday.
Both sides had beaten Wales, meaning the contest in Dublin was straight shootout to top Pool B and Les Bleues – who have now won 11 of the 14 Women’s Six Nations fixtures between the countries – stepped up with an eight–try, 56-15 triumph.
Winger Boujard followed her hat-trick in Round 1 with a try double at Energia Park, while her back-three teammates Emilie Boulard and Cyrielle Banet also crossed in a scintillating first-half display.
Safi N’Diaye’s close-range finish and a penalty try ensured victory was all but secured by half-time, before Romane Menager and Banet again added further gloss after the break.
Les Bleues now have a chance to win a first Championship title since 2018 when they face Pool A toppers England next weekend, while Ireland – who scored two maul tries through hookers Cliodhna Moloney and Emma Hooban – will contest the third/fourth-place play-off.
LES BLEUES BACK THREE MAKE THEIR MARK
With the continuity of a completely unchanged line-up, Ireland made a determined start and when a brilliant push by the pack got France pinged for not rolling away, Hannah Tyrrell slotted the kick between the posts.
Conversely, Annick Hayraud made eight changes to the Les Bleues starting XV from the Round 1 win over Wales but it was two of the retained players who combined for a moment of class on 13 minutes as quick hands gave Boulard space to burst down the left and she drew two defenders before shifting the ball to Boujard for the run-in.
And Boulard herself got France’s second try five minutes later with a brilliant turnover score.
Banet ripped the ball from Eimear Considine in the tackle just inside the French half, Laure Sansus box-kicked into the space over the top and Boulard showed her pace to kick on further before touching down over the line.
Those moments of quality from their back three settled the visitors down and the third score came shortly after in the form of a penalty try, as Ireland illegally pulled down an inexorable driving maul that was heading for paydirt – with lock Aoife McDermott also sin-binned for the offence.
But the 14 players quickly responded with a maul of their own from a five-metre lineout, after Considine had made a scything initial break, as Moloney wheeled off to power over the line and narrow the deficit to 21-8.
A Caroline Drouin penalty was the only damage done in McDermott’s absence but soon after her return, France sealed the bonus point with a fourth try as N’Diaye – unmistakeable in her distinctive tricolour scrum cap – burrowed over from close-range.
And the visitors moved 38-8 ahead just before half-time when Banet ripped the ball away from Beibhinn Parsons in contact and streaked away for a fifth try.
BOUJARD AND BANET AT THE DOUBLE
Despite the game being all but over as a contest heading into the second half, France didn’t take their foot off the gas as Boujard ended a spell of possession in the Irish 22 by barrelling over out wide following a fast, flat pass.
Menager then got in on the act after running a brilliant line down the right wing and stepping past Considine for the score before Drouin took the score over 50 with a three-pointer when Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe was yellow-carded for a high tackle.
France were producing some expansive, flowing rugby full of offloads, flicks and linebreaks and Banet deservedly got her second try by showing her speed after Pauline Bourdon initially broke the defensive line.
A second maul try, this time from Hooban, provided Ireland some additional late consolation but it was France’s day as they head to London with the Championship on the line next weekend in the best possible form.